Saturday, 22 February 2020

Mystery Looms Over Maulana Suryadi's Death in Street Protest

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Laila Afifa

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  • Protesters amid tear gas smoke fired by the police during clashes with protesters after a students' rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 30, 2019. ANTARA

    Protesters amid tear gas smoke fired by the police during clashes with protesters after a students' rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 30, 2019. ANTARA

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - This is the dire story of Maulana Suryadi (23) who tragically died in the riot that broke following the students’ street protests at the House of Representatives (DPR) on Wednesday, September 25. 

    The Indonesian National Police (Polri) Chief, General Tito Karnavian, announced the young man’s death on the following day without identifying him. “He was not a student but was in the group of rioters,” said the police chief.

    Tempo tracked the identity of the person Tito referred to, which led to our encounter with Maulana’s mother, Maspupah, in the area of Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta on Wednesday, October 2. The 53-year old woman recalled the night she communicated with her son for the last time.

    On the fateful Wednesday night, her son massaged her as he arrived home from his daily job as a parking attendant in Tanah Abang’s Block F business complex.

    Maspupah, who fell asleep not long after, was woken up by Maulana, who’s nicknamed Yadi in his neighborhood. He asked for his mother’s permission to participate in the students’ protest. 

    The mother of Maulana Suryadi, Maspupah (53), in Tempo's encounter at the Tanah Abang Market in Central Jakarta on Wednesday, October 2, 2019. Maulana died in the riot that broke after a student protest in front of the House of Representatives (DPR) headquarters earlier that day. Tempo/adam Prireza.

    “Mom, where’s my bag? I want to participate in the rally,” Maspupah recalled. The rally her son referred to is the one initiated by the Jakarta Greater Area high schooler’s movement.

    She initially tried to prevent her son from participating in the demonstration as she worried for his safety. Despite his mother’s warning, Maulana adamantly went on to join his fellow high school students in opposing the House’s decision of passing a number of arguable bills. 

    Maulana kissed his mother’s hand twice before leaving, all while continuously apologizing for his adamancy.

    Maspupah then reminded her son to bring his cellphone with him but was met with an answer that would forever be the last sentence she would hear her son say. “No need mom, It’s going to be alright,” followed by Maulana leaving his cellphone in his room and heading off to the rally. 

    Prior to joining his friend, Maulana initially paid a visit to his aunt’s house for some cash. He then traveled to the location of the street protest with his friend Aldo on a motorcycle. 

    Riot police are seen during university students' protest outside the Indonesian Parliament in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 30, 2019. ANTARA

    That was the last time Maspupah knew anything about her son’s condition until Thursday night of September 26 when she was visited by eight policemen at her house. “I had no inkling that Yadi would be gone,” she recalled. 

    Maspupah and her two children, Maulana Rizky and Marissa Febrianti, were then asked to check her son’s body at the Kramatjati Police Hospital in East Jakarta. They departed on two police cars and stopped by a restaurant after the police offered to buy them dinner, however, Maspupah declined the offer.

    As they arrived at the hospital half an hour later, they were faced with a harrowing sight of Maulana lying lifeless on the hospital bed. According to Maspupah, police informed her that doctors suspect Maulana had died due to asphyxiation, which Maspupah saw as plausible since her son had suffered from asthma. 

    “I was in shock. I blacked out several times [at the time], and my children were asked to make a letter stating that Maulana died due to asthma, which I had signed. I don’t remember what the letter contained in detail as I was in a state of panic and shock,” Maspupah recalled. 

    However, she felt many facts did not add up considering blood was flowing out of Maulana’s ears. As they arrived back home, Maulana Suryadi’s ears and nose did not cease to flow blood. Relatives even had to change the cotton used as stuffing numerous times due to the unstoppable flow. 

    The blood never stopped flowing as Maulana’s body arrived at his final resting place at the Menteng Pulo Public Cemetery in South Jakarta. Maspupah recalled to Tempo and showed photos of the white cloth used to cover Maulana’s facial area that was tainted with thick bloodstains as he was lowered into his grave. 

    The body of Maulana Suryadi (23) still excreting blood as he was lowered to his grave at the Menteng Pulo Public Cemetary on September 27, 2019. Family Documentation.

    “His right and left neck had pretty severe bruise marks, so was his back. The back of Yadi’s head also felt unusually mushy as if he was hit by a blunt object,” said Bayu, Maulana’s elder stepbrother, to Tempo. 

    In Police Chief Tito’s explanation, one person had passed out where the riot broke on Wednesday night, which was in the area of Slipi where rioters burned a police post. The passed out individual, believed to be referring to Maulana, was then taken to the Kramat Jati Hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

    General Tito Karnavian denied that the victim had died under police officers’ repressiveness or physical abuse. 

    “There are zero cases of abuse or gunshot wounds because I had ordered policemen against the use of deadly weapons. It (the death of the victim) is believed to be caused by asphyxiation,” the National Police Chief maintains.

    Adam Prireza