Three students from Universitas Islam Indonesia dead, police investigating shocking accusations of torture

Hazing and bullying, unfortunately, remain a strong part of campus culture at many Indonesian schools and universities. Stories of brutal initiation rituals being taken to dangerous extremes are not uncommon, but the death of three students from Universitas Islam Indonesia in Yogyakarta over the past few days, all due to apparent violence suffered at the hands of their fellow students, has truly shocked the nation.

The three students had all participated in a basic orientation and climbing program held by UII’s Mahasiswa Pecinta Alam (Nature Loving Student) group, which brought the students out to the slopes of Lawu Mountain in Karanganyar, Central Java. 

One of the students, Muhammad Fadhli, died on Friday on the way to Karanganyar Hospital. Another student, Syaits Asyam, died on Saturday after being treated at Bethesda Hospital in Yogyakarta, while the third, Ilham Nurpadmi Listiadi, succumbed to his injuries Monday night at around midnight in the ICU of Bethesda.

Authorities have not yet given an official cause of death for the three students, but police in Karanganyar, Central Java, have formed a special team to investigate the case.

“We’re moving fast,” said Karanganyar Police Chief Ade Safri Simanjuntak on Tuesday as quoted by Tempo. “There are indications of violence.” 

The full story of what took place at the orientation event may not come out for some time, but Sri Handayani, the mother of Syaits Asyam, described the shocking injuries her son suffered during it.  

“I was shocked when I saw my son, dirty and full of bruises,” Sri Handayani said on Monday evening. 

According to Sri, her son had suffered horrible injuries. He had been whipped numerous times on the back with a cane and been forced to carry a heavy bucket of water around his neck. Both of his hands were injured after being stomped on and one of his right toe nails was missing. He had complained of having trouble breathing and doctors later found out that one of his lungs had been injured.

One of Syaits’ friends told Sri that her son had asked to leave the program, after which he was separated from the rest of the group.

A friend of his said that Syaits had requested to pull out from the basic education. “After he resigned, Syaits was separated from the other participants,” Sri said, adding that she did not know what happened to her son after next after being separated from the group. 

The brother of victim Ilham Nur Padmi Listiadi said this his sibling had died while experiencing severe stomach pain and bleeding from his anus.

The rector of UII has said that all of the student organization’s activities have been frozen while the university and police investigate what exactly happened at the program.

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