Death Penalty, and Street Vigilante


Few weeks ago a robber/street snatcher who’s been known doing violent crime in one area in Jakarta got caught red handed by people. The angry mob ended up beat him to an inch of his life, and burned him to his death. When this was on the news, other people’s reaction is far from sympathetic. Some regretted the violent vigilantism of the angry mob, but some supported this so called street justice.

This actually reminds me of the entry about death penalty I wrote two days ago. And it makes me wonder: how come lives valued differently in one country and another?

It is as if in Indonesia, many people still believes that some lives are no more valuable than cockroach. Some people are seen as parasite for the society, hence their life means nothing for them. Maybe that’s why the Indonesian’s death penalty is seen quite inhumane by the other society’s standard.

I found it hard to categorise see what has happened in Indonesia in black and white. It is so hard for me to just condemn or support in any way, because there are so many layers in our society that other people, especially those from the first world country would never understand. It is like fire in the peat, you can only see where it starts after you ask a series of question, and investigate.

Why did the robber died? The mob killed him.

Why did the mob killed him? Because they are angry. The street snatchers has injured so many people in the area and endangering more lives if he was allowed to keep doing his crime.

Why did he do his crime? Because he needs money to buy booze and pay the whores.  (I am not speculating here, the robber admitted this himself in his facebook account)

So why didn’t he work? He did not have the skill, and working honestly means more work and less money.

So why didn’t the police do anything? They don’t have enough force, and too many small street thugs to handle.

Is that why the mob took matters in their own hand? Yes and no. They are tired of being scared, and they are angry that the legal justice system haven’t done anything to help.

So is this the police’s fault? So is this the robber’s fault?

So is it okay to kill this young life because he’s been robbing snatching people’s purse in the street?

I believe that many people felt uncomfortable with the fact that the angry mob could do anything in the street and the police force could not do anything about it. What if it happened to me? What if it happened to my family? What if we accidentally bump into someone, and it sparked more anger from different bloodthirsty mob? What kind of society my country has become? Are we going to anarchism as the alternative solution when the establishment can no longer be relied upon?

That’s why more and more people tried to find justification. They roam the internet to find out who the robber actually was (hence his facebook page is now quite popular). They justified that this life is not as worthy as they think it was. The angry mob’s victim has now become the little shit who injure and threaten people, to rob their hard earned money with violence to get completely drunk and screw whores. They tried to find justification that this person is not the same with us.

I think that’s how death penalty is still implemented in this country. They found justification that drug smuggles has taken so many lives in Indonesia, hence these people is no more than a bunch of parasitical creature who suck money and bring death to their young generations. They separate themselves and decided not to see the human side in the criminals.

There is nothing we can do now about the justice system in Indonesia. It satisfies the Indonesian citizen so no matter how many signs gathered for a petition would changed the mind of the lawmaker. But there is more to think about: how to channel the anger? How to stop the crime? How to build a society that helps, and not punish?

Maybe that’s your job to work that out.


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