A Canadian man detained in an Indonesian jail without charges for 32 days has written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper with a plea for help against what he is calling a violation of human rights and a due process that has been "abandoned."
- Neil Bantleman 'scared, fragile' in Indonesian jail, wife says
- Burlington man faces 40 more days in Indonesian jail
One of the mothers of the victims is suing the prestigious Jakarta International School for $125-million (USD) in damages, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.Neil Bantleman, 45, is being held in a Jakarta jail while awaiting charges related to a sexual assault case involving three boys from an International school in the city, where he was employed as a "learning leader."
"I am writing to you as a Canadian citizen currently detained in an Indonesian jail," begins the letter, handwritten from jail, and sent to the Prime Minister's Office Thursday. "I have been wrongfully accused, along with my colleague Ferdinant Tjiong, of crimes in which we took no part in."
Bantleman: 'The investigation has been marred by incompetence'
"Up to this point the investigation has been marred by incompetence, the inability to follow the rule of law or provide due process," Bantleman wrote.
Support for Bantleman is coming from Burlington, Ont., where his brother, Guy resides, in Jakarta where his wife Tracy visits him four days a week at the jail, and in Calgary, Alta., where he taught with his wife.
Bantleman claims he and Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdinant Tjiong were "forced by police investigators to undergo highly invasive medical procedures without our permission and without embassy or legal representation present."
He went on to say he's been interrogated three times since July 14, where he and Tjiong voluntarily went in for police questioning but never left.
Held in relation to rape case and $125M (USD) lawsuit
The sexual assault case which Bantleman is being held in connection with dates back to March, where six cleaners were arrested for raping a young boy. Since then, two other boys had come forward, while the mother of the original alleged victim is mounting a civil suit, seeking $125-million (USD) in damages.
'Ferdi and I have been forced by police investigators to undergo highly invasive medical procedures without our permission and without embassy or legal representation present.' - Neil Bantleman
"The lack of integrity, inability to follow legal procedures, and denial of basic human rights by these investigators causes me grave concerns for our safety and that of our families in Jakarta," writes Bantleman. "I fear that justice cannot be carried out in this case without intensive international pressure."
Tracy Bantleman said that her husband had 40 visitors Thursday, the last day he can accept visitors for the week, and that an international candle light vigil will be held at 5 p.m. local time at the international school at which they worked.
International public relations firm Burson-Marsteller is now working to benefit Bantleman's case. The firm did not respond to emails asking if they had been retained by the family or Jakarta International School.
The Prime Minister's Office did not immediately return emails to confirm the letter was received and ask if there were any plans the Prime Minister would step in.
Full letter from Neil Bantleman to Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
August 14, 2014
The Right Honorable Prime Minister Stephen Harper,
I am writing to you as a Canadian citizen currently detained in an Indonesian jail. I have been wrongfully accused, along with my colleague Ferdinant Tjiong, of crimes in which we took no part in. We have been detained for 32 days now. Our human rights have been violated and due process abandoned.
I have been an educator for over 17 years. My personal and professional reputations have never been called into question. I am an honorable man who upholds the truth and teaches to the honor of the human spirit. I am of good moral character and strive to treat others with respect, kindness, and equality.
I know the Canadian Embassy in Jakarta and Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs are aware of my situation and have been working at the highest levels on my behalf to resolve this issue. While I appreciate the support that has been offered thus far, I still find myself detained, and I am asking for even greater support.
As the Prime Minister of Canada I believe that your involvement would be of great benefit to our case by contacting your counterparts in the Indonesian government, outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and newly elected President Jokowi Widodo. It is imperative that the Indonesian government officials at the highest levels are made aware of the concerns of my home government and that this case is being monitored closely by the international community. Up to this point the investigation has been marred by incompetence, the inability to follow the rule of law or provide due process. Our legal representation has written formal letters of complaints to all levels of government regarding the police investigation but no action has resulted from these complaints.
Specifically, I would like to point out three particular issues that highlight violations of human rights and a lack of due process.
1. Ferdi and I have been forced by police investigators to undergo highly invasive medical procedures without our permission and without embassy or legal representation present. The degree to which proper medical and health procedures were followed is unknown and highly disconcerting.
2. I have been interrogated three times, twice as a witness and once as a suspect. During these interrogations, I was never asked about or shown any evidence. None of the questions I was asked during the interrogations, or answers I provided, should have led to my status being changed from witness to suspect, or to my now 32 day detention.
3. The original “detention” was to be for a 24 hour period. The embassy and lawyers were present during this time and were verbally promised, by the investigators, to uphold this detention. Immediately after embassy and legal representation left we were detained for the initial 20 days, which has since been extended for a further 40 days! The lack of integrity, inability to follow legal procedures, and denial of basic human rights by these investigators causes me grave concerns for our safety and that of our families in Jakarta.
I fear that justice cannot be carried out in this case without intensive international pressure. I hereby formally request your immediate assistance with this matter, as it has reached a severely critical stage. The actions that you take as Prime Minister of Canada on my behalf will be pivotal to resolving the injustice of illegal detainment and false accusations, brought against me and my colleague, Ferdinant Tjiong. I am an innocent Canadian citizen, please help Ferdi and I be free and let our names be cleared.
Jakarta International School