A first year cadet at a government-run aviation academy in the South Sulawesi capital of Makassar, Aldama Putra Pongkala, was killed after he was assaulted by one of his senior classmate. The victim became the latest casualty of the pervasive bullying in Indonesia’s schools.
According to Makassar Police Chief Dwi Ariwibowo, the assault took place at the Academy of Aviation Engineering and Safety (ATKP) campus on Sunday night. M. Rusdi, a senior student, decided to punish Aldama for driving his motorcycle without a helmet.
Aldama was then called by Rusdi to his room and subjected him to a torturous punishment called sikap tobat (meaning “repentance”, in which the subject must plant the top of their head and their feet on the ground and keep their torso elevated, as seen here). Rusdi then ordered Aldama to stand up before hitting him several times in the chest. The blows proved to be fatal as Aldama died soon after despite attempts at resuscitation by other cadets.
Daniel Pongkala, Aldama’s father, said the academy initially told him that his son’s death was caused by him slipping in the bathroom. When Daniel saw the bruises all over his 19-year-old son’s face and body, he knew that he had been physically assaulted.
“We request police to continue investigating this case, because we’re sure the perpetrator didn’t do it alone. We’re clearly disappointed by the campus, as if they’re trying to cover up his death,” Daniel said in another interview, as quoted by Detik.
The death of Aldama adds to the long list of fatal bullying incidents in Indonesian schools, especially in government institutions. One government-run academy that was notorious for bullying was the Institute of Home Affairs Governance (IPDN), where at least 35 students died between 1993 to 2007. Of those, only 10 cases were revealed to public, with many of the victims killed due to assaults by their seniors.