In March of 2014, the mother of a kindergarten child attending Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS formerly Jakarta International School) disclosed that her son had been molested by the janitorial staff (cleaners) hired to maintain the school’s buildings and grounds.
On March 28th, probably with help, her son identified Agun Iskander, Awan Amin, and Afrischa Setyani. It was almost a month later that Syahrial, Zainal Abidin and Azwar’s names were added. (It should be noted that many Indonesian men identify themselves with a single name.) All of the accused were responsible for financially supporting themselves as well as members of their families. What the mother didn’t know was that two of the identified cleaners were substitutes on the day of identification and regularly worked a completely different part of the campus, and therefore were not present through the time the mother declared the offenses had taken place.
Yet the evidence was ignored, the cleaners were taken into custody, and lo and behold, several confessed. Under normal, civil circumstances that might have cast a pall over the above declaration that no crime was committed. However witnesses said the confessions were extracted through torture. Azwar, who did not confess, died in custody on the day of his interrogation. Police claim he committed suicide by drinking cleaning fluid that he found in a bathroom in the investigator’s’ office, but witnesses declared his face and body were battered. It is likely the others confessed to stay alive. Afrischa, the only female, did not confess, but she was the only one with legal counsel and was therefore the only one not tortured. The surviving cleaners tried to recant their confessions when they got to what they thought was the relative safety of the court, but the recantations were rejected and they were each sentenced to eight years in prison, while Afrischa received seven.
The JIS community, the innocent cleaners’ family, friends, supporters around the world, and several Indonesian human rights organizations believe that Agun, Afrischa, Awan, Syahrial, Zainal, and the deceased Azwar are innocent, and have been wrongfully convicted of crimes which all credible evidence shows never occurred. Therefore, we will continue to support them morally, legally, and financially until they find justice.
by Chris Crutcher with editing by Chris Rose