In Indonesia, Neil Bantleman and teaching assistant, Ferdinand Tjiong, have thankfully been freed after serving one year of a 10-year prison sentence. From the beginning, it was widely held that the men were indicted on slanderous charges fabricated by a mother who claimed the men had molested her son. The decision to free Neil and Ferdinand follows the court’s rejection of the mother’s $124-million lawsuit against Jakarta International School in conjunction with the alleged incident.
Throughout their ordeal Bantleman and Tjiong maintained their innocence and were supported by family, colleagues, parents, students and the JIS Principal. Their release marks the long awaited end to an agonizing ordeal. The prosecution will contest the judgment, but the consensus is they do not have a viable case. Read full story
It has been said that this case calls into question the integrity of the Indonesian legal system. Why can an influential parent with an agenda thoroughly manipulate a country’s judicial system and severely impact the lives of innocent people? Although the prosecution lacked concrete evidence, they did succeed in getting a judgment against the men.
We celebrate the release of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinand Tjiong. Justice has finally been served. In light of this incident and the growing dislike of Westerners in some locales around the world, ISR asks: Would the chance you could end up as a pawn in an influential person’s agenda deter you from accepting a position in certain locations?
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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?
The case of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong, detained in Indonesia for allegedly sexually assaulting a child at the prestigious Jakarta International School, continues to draw world-wide scrutiny. The two men, both educators, have been imprisoned now for more than three weeks with no charges levied. Under Indonesian law they can be detained for up to 60 days while police carry on an investigation. To date, however, no evidence has been released incriminating the two men and the following video makes one sincerely question the motives behind the investigation.
School lawyers report they now have a witness who says that, with the help of the police, the mother who accused the teachers met with a school cleaner who was originally charged with the crime and in custody. It is alleged she promised he would be released if he was prepared to say that JIS teachers were involved as the perpetrators of sodomy. She is also asking for $125 million in damages from the school.
Just prior to the detention of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong, twenty Western teachers from Jakarta International School were deported for small discrepancies in their work visas (some teachers in the elementary division had visas designated for middle school). This followed the investigation of the cleaning staff by authorities. We question why a simple grammatical correction would not have sufficed? Furthermore, the Education and Culture Ministry decreed that the term “international” is to be removed from the names of all international schools in Indonesia, and the word “international” is not be used in school programs, literature, or educational material. In a similar vein, the Education and Culture Ministry has banned the teaching of English language to elementary school children.
Is Indonesia trying to dissuade Western educators and businesses? If so, they may well be achieving their goal at the expense of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong and JIS. If the good name of Jakarta International School were to be tarnished by means of such accusations of sexual improprieties, embassies and large International companies in Jakarta may find it difficult to attract Western employees with children, as well as employees from other countries.
Jakarta International School has been transparent and supportive of their teachers throughout this ordeal. School’s Statements
Certainly ISR is not in a position to determine the guilt or innocence of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong. In accord with the position of embassies and other agencies, we believe these two men are being held without cause and encourage you to sign the petition in support of the release of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong: Sign the Petition
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