Death at Manahan

Joko Riyanto went to the game with a few thousand rupiah in his pocket. He left the game, carried by trembling police, with Rp.3,000 (30 cents, for what it is worth) in his pocket and a bullet hole in the right side of his chest.

The day after the game, players and the coach of Persis Solo went to Joko’s funeral. Now, when people speak of Joko, they give him the title of Almarhum (deceased). He is dead. He has been killed. A live bullet to the chest is not an accident. He didn’t trip over it. He wasn’t going for a run, in the late afternoon and accidentally ran into a flying bullet while turning his head to check whether or not there was any cars passing too close to him.

The stadium was a mess. The pitch was covered with police with their shields and their helmets. Some of them might have had guns. Weapons. Some seemed to have fired them. Tear gas, gas to make you cry. Bullets to make your mourn. There were dogs on the pitch. German Shepherds. Not pet dogs. Not middle-aged men, out and about with their daughters taking their golden retrievers for a late afternoon stroll.

Media Gate B7.3

(this photo and the one above by Media Gate B7)

Persis Solo drew the game with Martapura FC. 1:1. Harian Bola newspaper put the story on the bottom left corner of page 14. The journalist, Gonang Susetyo, captioned the photograph with this statement: “Kericuhan di Stadion Manahan Solo, akibat kekecewan penonton karena Persis gagal lolos”. “The riot at Manahan Stadium was a result of the fans’ disappointment with Persis not qualifying [for the next stage of ISL qualification].”

I think this statement is bullshit. And I think Gonang Susetyo is not telling even half of the story. Harian Bola should be representing the interests of soccer fans in Indonesia. Instead, they focus on stories from the English Premier League and the beautiful stories of CR7. Their audience of soccer fans are those who are primarily interested in soccer abroad. And when a fan is killed in their own backyard they don’t show the fan the respect of making his death a front page story. The murder of Cilacap fan Muhammad Ikhwan also failed to make front page news for Harian Bola.

On Monday I spoke with Andre Jaran, one of the ‘conductors’ of the Pasoepati fans. He does his work facing the B7 – Pasoepati campus community of supporters who gather on the eastern stands. He said, ‘you should come on Wednesday. It is our last home game of the season. You’ll regret it if you don’t.’ I told him  I would try to go to the game, already knowing that it would be very unlikely for me to attend.

Someone asked him, ‘can Persis still qualify for the next stage?’ Andre answered, ‘win or lose, this is still our last home game of the season.’ When I first met him, I asked him if it was difficult to motivate the crowd when Persis Solo was losing  a game. He answered that he didn’t care for the terms ‘win’ or ‘lose’, but what was important was to provide 90minutes of full support, full cheering for the team.

On Twitter, I saw a photo sent by Andre including a photograph of  Joko Riyanto’s body being put into his grave. Andre’s message was ‘we will continue to fight for Persis for you’. One of the players gave Joko Riyanto’s wife his jersey. His daughter, perhaps around 10 years old, posed with the players and coach.

I won’t ever forget the first time I heard the anthem Satu Jiwa when attending the Persis Solo vs Ciamis game a month or so ago. The crowd was united and full of passion. The singing was sturdy, strong and stoic. Later during the same game, there was anger too. There were signs that things could get violent. I see this anger as being the result of great distrust in the administration of football in the Divisi Utama and as a result also of the distrust towards the police and authority.

Joko Riyanto. Joko Riyanto. Joko Riyanto. Your murder will not be forgotten. Not by Persis Solo fans and not by fans of other teams. This was a death not by accident and someone fired that weapon and sent that bullet untoward your chest. Your chest took it. Your chest is not the home for a bullet. The bullet was fired by someone with the confidence of not being caught, found out. Someone with the confidence that ‘those above him’ will protect him.

Half Time in the Sun

(photo by Andy Fuller)

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