Violence in Indonesia

Researchers love to rank countries. From corruption and economic growth to the prevalence of AIDS infection, birth rates, etc, they compile their lists.

There isn’t a list ranking violence though. But if there were, where would Indonesia stand?

Student violence. The beatings of students to death at universities that churn out govt officials are sickening beyond belief, but don’t really surprise me. Students in Indonesia love to fight. Stone throwing is common; the use of weapons such as knives, clubs and celurit reserved for the special occasion. 8/10

Football violence. Indonesia’s record here is patchy, and it’s the supporters from Surabaya – and to a lesser extent Makassar – that set the standards in brutality. Robbery, muggings, vandalism and arson are all in their repertoire. I once saw a terrified pregnant women in her car on Jalan Sudirman being relieved of her valuables after the hooligans smashed in the car windows. Extra kudos for using the football pitch as a battlefield – while the game is in progress (and even the players like to join in sometimes!) 9/10

Street violence. Despite the poverty, Jakarta is a remarkably safe city. This ain’t Rio and you can walk around the rough areas – if you so wish - without fear of being attacked or robbed. People are very friendly and guns extremely rare. 1/10

Nightclub violence. Safe if you’re humble, dangerous if you play the arrogant prick. But if you are up for trouble you’d better watch out though. Because if you pick a fight here it won’t be an old fashioned “one on one” like back in London or Sydney. And to add to the drama the locals don’t stop the kicking even when the protagonist is on the floor. I once saw this Aussie guy in Dolly many years back get into an altercation with some ruffian in a billiard hall, and the next thing he knows there were young men swarming all over him. And as he lay on the floor, huddled up into the fetal position to protect himself, he continued to take one hell of a beating. 7/10

Political violence. 1965. The May 1998 riots. 10/10

Religious violence. A bit like a volcano really – you simply don’t know when it’s gonna erupt. But during the dormant periods, the religious tolerance in Indonesia is to be commended. 7/10

Domestic violence. Most Indonesians don’t drink, so the women get off lightly. Good for them. 5/10

And the verdict? Simple really. Stay away from the crowds!


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