INDONESIA, Where International Teachers are imprisoned on insufficient evidence and convicted terrorists are set free for ‘good behavior’

  The high profile case of Jakarta International School teacher, Neil Bantleman, is a prime example of Indonesia’s current corrupt “legal” system and apparent growing disdain for Westerners. Without entering into a discussion of guilt or innocence in regards to the claim of child abuse, the trial of Neil Bantleman, if you can stretch your imagination to call it that, points to a judge and jury with an unobscured agenda: “Find him guilty!” even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary. See: Thirty-Things You Should Know About the JIS Case

  Neil Bantleman was ultimately sentenced to 10 years in prison on insufficient evidence for an alleged crime against the child of a parent now pursuing a $125-million lawsuit against Jakarta International School. This, after Indonesia released convicted terrorist Muhammad Cholili from prison on ‘good behavior.’ Even Cholili was surprised by his release. He had been convicted for helping to assemble more than 20 backpack and motorcycle bombs, some of which were used in the October, 2005 attacks in Bali, killing 20 people and leaving more than 120 others injured at the well-populated tourist areas of Kuta & Jimbaran Beach. He served less than half of his 18-year sentence.

  We are speechless. A foreign teacher is imprisoned for 10 years on inconclusive evidence and a known terrorist convicted of killing and maiming tourists is set free because he was behaving himself in prison? Based on this model, Bantleman should have already been freed. The question is, were deals cut in both cases? Is each case an example of a corrupt system where money in the right pocket gets the desired results? Is Indonesia sending a message that Westerners are not welcome? We all like to think it can’t happen to us…at least until it does. Comments?

27 Responses to INDONESIA, Where International Teachers are imprisoned on insufficient evidence and convicted terrorists are set free for ‘good behavior’

  1. Eric says:

    This is a no brainer. Just ANOTHER case of the typical profoundly corrupt and perverse behavior that is found in Muslim countries. Politically correct ?—-no, —-accurate? —-absolutely.

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  2. T says:

    http://www.freeneilandferdi.org

    A website on the facts of the case, updates and information about Neil, Ferdi and the cleaners. All facing an incredible injustice in Indonesia.

    Like

  3. tooscarednottobeanon says:

    There are many questions involved in this situation: Was a crime committed? If so, were the perpetrators caught? If not, why are there people in jail? If it is corruption, and this all could have been solved “diplomatically”, why didn’t that happen? As an international teacher, how do you keep yourself safe?

    it all comes down to to proper handling by the administration. It is extremely prudent that all teachers investigate the prior success and failures of the administration of a school before agreeing to work for them. Administration is just as important to teachers, as teachers are to admin.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I want to remind everyone that you can not assume that you have the same legal protections abroad as you do in your home country.

    One other reminder, and there is no way to say this delicately… If you have children and they commit illegal acts they may also be jailed as adults for an unlimited amount of time. Be especially careful if you have children who have disabilities as most countries make NO exceptions as to how they apply their laws. Whereas in my home country the judge might say,”Oh that kid has ADHD and conduct disorder so let’s try treatment and evaluation” a judge in another country might say, ” Jail time”. Many developing countries do not separate juveniles from adults in prison settings.

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  5. Leonard says:

    The danger here is to think that if you are not in Indonesia, you are completely safe from miscarriages of justice. While this is a horrifying event (that clearly shows a deeply flawed legal system), there are many countries with international schools with sub-standard justice systems. Indeed, for a segment of the population in my own country of the US, it is equally terrifying. We just sentenced teachers to prison for changing test scores while bankers steal billions without even a fine. When we teach the kids of the powerful elite that run these countries, we all take a risk. This kind of injustice will happen again and it may be in your country.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Neil is not guilty and there was no evidence to suggest he was or is. Anybody who has just a fleeting knowledge of the case would come to the same conclusion. Remember, that it could have happened to any one of us – at the wrong time, in the wrong place. I will never step foot in the place again and will boycott anything to do with the Indonesia. I hope there is a concerted camapign to have Neil released and it would get my unreserved backing.

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  7. No surprise here says:

    I agree. What would the purpose be of boycotting JIS? I feel they have supported their beleaguered teachers and have done what they can on their behalf. I understand they are currently waging a law suit against the mother who started this entire affair. Some schools desert their teachers and they should be boycotted for doing such. JIS is not one of them. Now…if you want to boycott Indonesia, I’m all in. Anyone who goes there is putting themselves in grave danger these days.

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    • A.G says:

      I’m confused; JIS is in Indonesia. If you boycott Indonesia in general, you are by default boycotting JIS. If going to Indonesia puts you in grave danger as you suggest, then working at a school in Indonesia also puts you in grave danger. Because that school is in Indonesia.

      You might want to rethink this position.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Regardless of how you feel about the guilt or innocence of the parties involved, I think it is somewhat irresponsible as teachers to speak publicly in black and white about what “really happened” if the fact is you really do not know what happened and were not there. I wouldn’t. To speak out against a corrupt system however is appropriate. As far as working in Indonesia? If you have followed the news and have seen how the government handles things lately from plane crashes to executions to this incident? I am sure there are loads of great families, students and teachers at JIS and I would not blacklist a school but for anyone going there to work can not claim ignorance to the potential for things to go really badly. Eyes wide open and no excuses from this moment on if you choose to bring yourself and your family there.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Generally speaking a blacklist will not work because teachers will still be attracted to work there.And schools there will just recruit hard and early.What people need to really consider is if they are christian or not of the prevalent religion there,do they want to be in a place that has strong religious influences in its law and culture.All it takes is one complaint by parent/child or anyone and you are toast.Based on 1 complaint, and it does not to be substantiated, you are jailed, forget your exit visa and most likely access to whatever else you might need, and then are left at the whim of the angry crowd mentality.Common sense or justice as a western mind might rationalise,does not prevail.Besides the recent Bali 9 executions,caught trying to smuggle moderate amounts of heroin out of the Country-not into,they have given 18 years to the suitcase killers(I believe they killed and stuffed a person into a suitcase and it was found at Bali Airport).Does any of that seem of equal proportions? Not to me. Now they want to pass a law prohibiting sales of beer at all stores, but they feel the law will have to be ignored in Bali as to prevent discouraging tourism dollars.Bintan and Batam islands are well known haven of whatever goes,to attract tourists and keep the foriegn oil workers happy.Yes, over 95% of foreigners might be able to make it through their 2 or more year contracts unscathed, but who wants to wants to set foot in such a place? If all of that does not discourace one, think of the potential for attacks by any number of radicalised nut jobs who want to blow things up based on religious fevour.Its not about all the good people there, its about the ones who will ruin you if you are the first one they see on the day they wake up on the wrong side of the bed. To me its simple, as another poster said, I will not set foot there, and for me, its a short plane ride away.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    “Blacklist JIS???” Blacklist JIS to punish to amazing family of teachers, students, parents, and local staff who have stood behind Neil and Ferdi since day one…whose hearts are breaking over this nightmare every single day…who push on providing students an incredible education and community despite battling fear, anger, and sometimes total despair…the list goes on and on.

    To an extent, I understand that some may like the idea of boycotting Indonesia, but to “blacklist JIS” is maybe the dumbest idea I have ever seen posted on ISR.

    To the literally thousands of ITs who continue to support us, thank you. Please know it means the world to us.

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      As a teacher at JIS I agree with this sentiment 100%. To encourage people not to come to an amazing school who has fought tooth and nail and stood strong beside Neil and Ferdi would be an affront to their struggle. They would never want that. Yes, indonesia is most definitely full of corruption esp in their judicial system and this experience has been devastating/frustrating/maddening however to blacklist a school that has the most heart of anywhere I have worked (21 years abroad) would be a disservice to kids. Not a solution

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      • Anonymous says:

        An amazing school? One of your cleaners raped a kid inside the school. The rapist then ‘took his own life’. Your teachers were arrested on trumped up charges and imprisoned. You stay in this school and call it amazing? Beggars belief.

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        • Anonymous says:

          With all due respect, one should not respond in such a negative way with regards to things you do not have direct knowledge of. The evidence in the cleaners case also prove that they are innocent as well and that the cleaner who “took his own life” did so at the hands of the police, not with his own. I stand by JIS and an overwhelming majority of the parents would agree with me. Overwhelming medical evidence and simple common sense all point to the fact that nothing happened at the school at all. I would be the first to want justice for anyone who harms a child and would leave a school if this was allowed to happen- this however is not the case here. No doubt Indonesia has many problems and anti-foreign sentiments seem strong at the moment from a governmental perspective but the people of Indonesia that I have met are warm, welcoming and caring people. No need to paint such broad brushstrokes against an entire nation

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          • Wizzy says:

            @ Anon, If your school needs more support, I will help a 100 percent. Has JIS thought of putting together worldwide petition?

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    • I understand completely about the JIS family of teachers; however, it seems as if it would not be prudent to work there. Obviously, Indonesia has a vendetta against JIS. Who would willingly subject themselves to the possibility of the consequences?

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      • A.G says:

        I agree 100%. Whether or not JIS is an amazing school to work at; this case clearly demonstrates a real risk for international educators. Coming on here and deflecting said risk is, quite frankly, irresponsible. While blacklisting might not be a solution, encouraging people to work there or downplaying the risk is certainly not a solution either.

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  11. Fiona says:

    I live in Malaysia and the only reason I found out about this trial of injustice is on social media. International press need to shout about this more. Those poor people have no human rights in these ridiculous accusations. And it’s true, where is Canada’s support?
    To be honest I have had bad experience with Indonesia myself and would never return. The case is all about money now. It’s truly heart breaking for those families.

    Like

  12. Anonymous says:

    I think JIS should be black listed so that they are unable to get reputable teachers to apply to their school and hopefully that will raise awareness of this horrible situation.

    Like

  13. lulu says:

    I used to live in Indonesia. I’ve lived all over/not much phases me/yet I left because It felt increasingly risky for many reasons – all of which point to contemptuousness for westerners, issues of justice and how that can unfold (as witnessed in this awful JIS situation). My two cents: anyone from the west living in Indonesia might want to re-think the risks. Such a shame – the Indonesian people are just so lovely.

    Like

    • John says:

      Incredible! “contemptuousness”? Why not contempt? I hope you have not been an English teacher “all over”.

      Like

  14. anonymous says:

    Indonesia is not openly hostile to westerners-rather, its done in small ways and large-as described here. The recent executions display a certain caprice towards laws and the Bantleman case is a tragic example of this application of law when it serves a purpose other than justice. Like many places, it is becoming increasingly radicalised – this is a fact of life. The stories from the impunity to which privilege is abused are legion. I loved my school but it too fell to the whims of an uneducated but greedy owner. I will never step foot in Indonesia again.

    Like

  15. Anonymous says:

    Get out of there before it’s too late!

    Like

  16. Brina Meegan says:

    Indonesia is becoming more like the Middle East every day…

    Like

    • Tamer says:

      I have worked in Indonesia for over 10 years and have never at any time felt at any risk. I have been treated with respect and courtesy by virtually everyone I have met. True they have a screwed judicial system but what does one expect of one of the most corrupt countries in the world. I feel true compassion for both Neil and Ferdi and I don’t claim to know the facts but it does to be a severe miscarriage of justice. However, I feel to boycott the country or the school would not be a good answer.

      i wish also to comment on the Bali 9. I have no sympathy whatsoever, to smuggle drugs in the first place is bloody stupid and to do it in a country where the known penalty is death is ludicrous. i strongly with Idonesias decision to go ahead with the execution.

      Like

      • A.G says:

        So what would be a good answer? Continue to encourage international educators to work at that particular school or in that country? Pretend the problem doesn’t exist?

        Like

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