Indonesian recalls stinging tear gas in deadly soccer melee
MEMBERS of the Indonesian soccer community on Tuesday remembered three boys and their soccer coach who died on July 5 after a street battle with tear gas in the capital, Jakarta.
The boys were among hundreds of thousands of people who gathered to protest a ban on street gatherings to mark the second anniversary of a deadly series of soccer riots in 2005.
The July 5 deaths are believed to have been caused by the gas, which can cause asphyxiation, and at least three people were killed when riot police used tear gas to disperse the hundreds of thousands of people who assembled at several soccer matches in central Jakarta, police said.
Tears and blood were still pouring from the windows of dozens of riot-hit homes Monday night, hours after three more people died amid protests in a string of cities around the country.
Police and state prosecutors are investigating the deaths of three young football players and their coach at the Jakarta derby on Thursday night.
In the days before the clash, a curfew had already been imposed on the capital city after police and soccer fans clashed over violence and the banning of public gatherings.
At least 3,000 people were arrested in the wake of the 2005 riots, which killed 57 people.
The government has blamed the unrest on “dissatisfaction over the implementation of the law, poor sports management and a decline in morals following the economic crisis.”
The country has been suffering through a deep economic crisis, which has been blamed partly on the corruption of the soccer star turned politician Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
“It is a tragedy,” said former police chief Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, speaking to reporters in the city on Monday. “I think this is the tragedy of the city of Jakarta which is in the middle of the economic crisis, where there are no jobs, where there is unemployment.”
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