The National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA) on Monday took 12 children, including two infants, from an orphanage in Serpong, Tangerang, where they allegedly faced abuse and neglect at the hands of the institution's administrators.
“We’ve rescued 12 underage children, two of them infants who were ill. They had high temperatures,” Komnas PA chairman Arist Merdeka Sirai said. “We’ve brought them to the nearest hospital.”
Tangerang is in Banten province, just west of Jakarta.
Arist said the children would be placed in an undisclosed “safe, decent” place while the commission investigated the allegations.
Speaking early in the day, he said additional children would be picked up after school let out.
“[The orphanage] is stuffy; it doesn’t meet international criteria for orphanages," he said. "We’ve also found allegations of abuses.”
Administrators of the Samuel Orphanage came under fire after the Mawar Sharon Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) lawyer Jecky Tengens said on Sunday that he had heard from orphanage benefactors that the 30 children in the institution's care — between three months and 17 years in age — were being abused and neglected.
“The benefactors have been wondering about the orphanage’s condition. It keeps receiving donations, but the children in the orphanage still look skinny, disheveled and unkempt,” he said. “The benefactors also have often spotted bruises on the children’s bodies, like they’ve been beaten or even bitten by an adult."
A child in the institution's care told orphanage donors that he and the other orphans, including toddlers, were often fed spoiled noodles and were only given unboiled tap water to drink.
He said that they were often beaten with shoes and sometimes dragged on the floor, tied up and confined to a locked room.
“Some were even allegedly victims of rape,” Jecky said, without providing further details.
A three-month-old recently died in the facility, he said.
Seven children reportedly fled the orphanage even before the Komnas PA raid, Jecky said. He did not say when or under what circumstances the victims had fled.
“Those who escaped had been living in the orphanage since they were toddlers and they all were victims of assault," he said.
Orphanage head Reverend Chemuel Watulingas — the editor of Indonesian Pentecostal newspaper Pantekosta Pos — denied the allegations.
“Assaults where? Mawar Sharon just came here suddenly, without proof,” he said. “Where is the evidence? If proven, I, Reverend Chemuel, am ready to be imprisoned.”
His wife, Yuni Winata, resisted the raid, demanding to be informed where the children would be taken.
“No, please. We object. They’re our children,” she said when Komnas PA officers raided the orphanage, according to Indonesian news portal liputan6.com. “Don’t just believe [the allegations]; investigate them first. Don’t just take [the children] away.”
Police said they were investigating the case.