Why use tear gas when dogs can do the job?

His eyes were temporarily blinded after the Arema-Persebaya match on October 1, 2022, when he was in the east tribune towards the center of the field at Malang’s Kanjuruhan Stadium. To protect himself, Yohanes raised both hands in surrender and walked towards the sound of the officers. An officer took his hand in his. He warned them not to shoot at the stands because there were many children and women present. The warning, however, was met with a blow. He didn't know who had hit him. The beating must have continued until the officials’ curses drowned his warning out and he was lying on the ground. Smoke billowed from the spot where he had been sitting. Aremania, who had been with him, fled because the tear gas irritated their eyes and caused them to become short of breath.

Yohanes was initially silent and looking for water before climbing the fence in front of him and running toward the field. “You can actually use a dog to disperse, so why is tear gas also used?” he asked.

Kanjuruhan Stadium’s field was filled with tear gas, kicks, punches, and batons. The brutality of the apparatus, particularly the use of tear gas, and a lack of coordination, were the causes of the deaths of 132 supporters. State institutions and civil society coalitions are conducting investigations into the alleged involvement of the police in the bloody tragedy. Initial findings from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) investigation, for example, showed that tear gas fired by police was the primary cause of panic. According to Komnas HAM, the tear gas shot caused the audience to flee the stands and look for a way out. Attempts to flee the tear gas crowded the crowd, causing some to suffocate and die.

In fact, the use of tear gas is considered to be outside the permitted equipment brought into the stadium. The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA)’s Stadium Safety and Security Regulation, Article 19 point b., states that carrying and using firearms and gas-based crowd control weapons are prohibited.

The police have so far referred to the National Police Chief Regulation No. 2 of 2019 concerning Riot Enforcement to regulate the stages of crowd control, including appeals and signals to shootings.

Six spectators in different parts of the Kanjuruhan Stadium stands at the time of the incident, all admitted to hearing no warnings or warnings before the shooting.

“There was no warning at all,” said one spectator sitting in the east stand, watching the shells eject into the stands.

According to Yonna, an Aremanian who was present at the stadium and was sitting in the VIP stands, the tear gas shooting at Kanjuruhan Stadium was haphazard. Every day, the woman who works as a journalist has been in the middle of a stadium riot.

When there is a riot, the police usually use tear gas. Shooting is usually done with a pause. That night, the Kanjuruhan Stadium crowd witnessed a unique situation.

Yonna was sitting in the stands when she heard the police shooting at Kanjuruhan Stadium without pause. “I went into the VIP room because the wind carried the gas up to my stands,” she explained. As someone who used to watch matches in Kanjuruhan, she recalled that the master of ceremonies would usually try to persuade the audience to remain calm. “How come you weren’t hearing anything? I’m not sure if the sound system was dead or damaged,” she stated.

When the tragedy occurred at the Kanjuruhan Stadium, security and evacuation routes didn't work in tandem. The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS)’s fact-finding team determined that the violent incident that night was a systematic crime.

“In the middle of the second half, several troops carrying tear gas were mobilized, even though there was no threat or potential security disturbance. So we noticed something strange,” at a press conference on Sunday, KontraS Legal Division Head Andi Muhammad Rezaldi said.

Sarah Nuraini Siregar, a National Research and Innovation Agency researcher who studies police issues, believes that the police should have calculated the best way to control crowds in the stadium. She regretted that the police had used tear gas weapons to deal with crowds in places like stadiums. In fact, for dealing with protesters, the police already have a methodical approach.

“Now we compare it to demonstrations, where there are negotiations and interactions,” Sarah stated.

One of the key points is to plan and coordinate the handling of the masses in Kanjuruhan. According to her, the incident in the field shows a lack of coordination. Initially, the police chief stated that his party wouldn't use tear gas. However, at the height of the chaos, all the tear gas appeared to be crammed into the crowd at the same time.

Another point to consider is the apparatus’s performance, which still relies on a violent approach when dealing with enormous crowds.

“I see that aspects of policing that are consistent with democratic principles, such as respect for human rights and the avoidance of harsh methods, aren't under the control of the Indonesian police,” Sarah said.

Andreas Marbun, a football writer and the managing director of Pandit Football, stated during a match that anyone involved in maintaining security must be well-prepared. Parties involved in security must be familiar with international standards for organizing football matches.

“The viewpoint is one of prevention. This means they already know what happened, they are in the football and security environment, they know what to do, and there are rules from our football authority that ratify or adapt it from FIFA,” Andreas explained.