Malang stadium tragedy, Bishops' Conference: 'Nourish kindness'

Condolences from the Indonesian government and Church for the victims of the stampede at the Kanjuruhan stadium. At least 127 have died so far after police fired tear gas at fans who invaded the field. The government will set up an independent investigation team.

Oct 04, 2022

By Mathias Hariyadi
Several Indonesian authorities and priests have expressed their condolences for the tragedy at the stadium in Malang, on the island of Java, where 127 people died in violence that broke out after a football match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya. The death toll is set to rise: many seriously injured are still in hospital, while dozens of dead bodies, lacking personal documents, have yet to be identified.

The match had ended 3 to 2 for Persebaya Surabaya. According to the Security Minister, there were 4,000 more people than there should have been at the Kanjuruhan stadium, while the local police chief reported that about 3,000 people - fans of Arema FC, who were playing at home - stormed the pitch at the end of the match. The police used tear gas and many people were crushed in the crowd.

'I express my deepest condolences to the victims and their families,' President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo said in a video posted on his YouTube channel. The government will set up an independent fact-finding team headed by the Minister of Security, while football matches in the Indonesian top league, Liga 1, will remain suspended until further notice.

The Bishop of the Diocese of Malang, Bishop Henricus Pidyarto Gunawan, also expressed his condolences: 'I want to express my condolences to all the families who lost their loved ones during yesterday's football tragedy. My prayers go out to all the deceased. I hope that the merciful God welcomes the dead and that all the injured recover quickly," the prelate continued to AsiaNews. 

"I really hope that these families will receive moral support. I also urge the Indonesian authorities and the Indonesian Football Association, together with the State Security Agency, to carry out a thorough investigation and bring those responsible to justice, so that such an incident never happens again," added Fr Hans Jeharut, secretary of the Office of the Commission for the Laity of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference (Kwi). Dozens of other priests echoed the appeal and asked for prayers for the victims.

"For me, this is not the time to blame one another, but to go hand in hand to offer assistance to those in need," said Fr Peter Christian Siswantoko, executive secretary of Kwi. "Yesterday's incident should be an opportunity for the entire Indonesian people to learn the true spirit of sportsmanship: not only that of competing but also of 'fomenting kindness' when losing a match. Key values that should be learnt not only by athletes and officials but also by the fans'. --Asia News

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