Sunday, March 24, 2013

Letter for Julia Overton

Julia Overton
24th March, 2013

Dear  Julia

Authorities have raided an Australian-run orphanage in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh and taken away 21 children, some as young as one year old.

So began an article in the Sydney Morning Herald over the weekend – to be found in full at: 

As you know, CHANTI’S WORLD has, as one of its central story threads, my attempts to retrieve two girls – Rosa, aged 11 and Chita, aged 10 – ‘stolen’ by Brisbane based Citipointe church from their mother, Chanti, in 2008.

Close to five years down the track I am still trying to get Rosa and Chita released back into the family’s care and incurring the wrath of Citipointe church in the process. Writes Pastor Mulheran on 21st Feb:

 “Using the law is the last thing that we want to see happen because for you to be convicted of a crime and serve a sentence may mean that you will never have the opportunity to re-enter Cambodia again.”

Other than making a film which will raise a whole range of questions about what Citipointe is doing in Cambodia, I am also lobbying to have Citipointe church’s She Rescue Home closed down for breaking both Cambodian and Australian law. This isot a way to win friends and influence people as Pastor Mulheran makes clear:

“We sincerely do not want to  have to go down a legal pathway of seeing you forcibly removed…”

The church is doing all it can to prevent CHANTI’S WORLD from being completed or broadcast:

“You either cease all aspects of production of the documentary film,” writes Pastor Mulheran, “or remove all content which would identify the mother and the girls who are or were all child victims.”

The word ‘intimidation’ springs to mind.

Claire Jager’s 2009 assessment of CHANTI’S WORLD was prescient:

If the film was to be the story of how an evangelical Christian missionary agency ‘steals’ children from poverty-stricken Cambodian families in order to turn them into Christians as quid pro quo for ‘rescuing’ them from the street of Phnom Penh  -  an unholy exchange of succour for souls  -  and as a bonus, the main character has been continuously filmed for 14 years since she was a child, and now enlists the help of the hopelessly enmeshed filmmaker to get her own children back from the Christian agency which is acting illegally ... then we have a great film.

Unfortunately, as you know, problems with my 2009 application arose when Claire failed to view the DVD which contained a 7 minute promo for CHANTI’S WORLD. If Claire had viewed the promo she may well have discovered that all of the elements she felt were necessary to make a “great film” were actually  there. My point right now, however, close to five years down the track, is not whether my 2009 ‘promo’ was good or not but whether you, Ross Mathews or Claire Jager ever saw it; whether any of you will admit to seeing it or not seeing it.

In the August 2010 meeting between yourself, myself, Ross Mathews and, for a significant part of it, Liz Crosby, you and Ross both admitted that you had not seen my “Chanti’s World’ promo. And Ross confirmed that, with my first application, Claire had not seen it either. This is my recollection, my very clear recollection and this is what I have been stating for the last two and a half years in my correspondence. No-one within Screen Australia has ever sought to contradict me and say, “James, you are wrong. We all, all three of us, have no recollection of our telling you we had not viewed your promo. Of  course we viewed it.” Instead, Fiona Cameron chose to rewrite history and make the assertion that I had come away from this August meeting between yourself, myself, Ross and Liz, with the belief that my CHANTI’S WORLD application (which I had not even made yet) had been greenlit. I had, Fiona insisted, made this clear in my correspondence. Of course, two years later when I managed to get from Fiona the correspondence in which I had supposedly claimed that I thought my application had been greenlit, it contains no such assertion! But then facts are of no relevance or importance to Fiona when she has wishes to create a narrative in which it is not Screen Australia that has cocked up but myself who has come away from a meeting thinking (nudge nudge, wink wink!) that the application I have not even made has been ‘greenlit’.

By the time my dispute with Screen Australia over what was and what was not said in this August 2010 meeting vis a vis my promo had escalated to the level of total absurdity, you were no longer at Screen Australia so I did not bother to ask you (as I did all others present in the meeting) if you have a clear recollection of admitting, along with Ross, that you had not seen my promo. As you know, much flows from this – my ultimate banning, my twice being arrested and once jailed. If you confirm that you and Ross admitted to not having seen the promo then the entire house of cards upon which Fiona Cameron has built her case, collapses in a heap and my letters to Screen Australia, far from being ‘intimidating’ were merely my persistent desire for the truth to be known and acknowledged. As you know, it is my allegedly ‘intimidating correspondence’ that has led to my being banned by Ruth Harley and the Screen Australia board.

So, Julia, my question of you is a simple one: In our August 2010 meeting did you and Ross admit to not having seen my 7 minute “Chanti’s World” promo or not? Yes or no.

I do appreciate that it is difficult for you to say ‘yes’ as this would raise the question as to why Ross, Claire and Liz have not said ‘yes’ at any time this past two and a half years despite my frequent requests for a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ answer.

If you answer ‘no’, then it would appear that I have been lying all this time, though one wonders why it is that it has taken two and a half years for anyone in the room that day to provide a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.

Of course there is also the corrupt politician’s answer: “I don’t recollect.”

My letter of 11th Feb to Foreign Minister Bob Carr will make apparent that I do not intend, after five years of trying, to cease in my efforts to see justice done to Chanti:

Nor do I intend to cease, no matter how long it takes, lobbying to see that I also am dealt with justly. Perhaps Senator Brandis, when he is Minister for the Arts (which it seems he will be by the end of the year) will have a different attitude towards the precepts of transparency and accountability than Mr Crean. If Screen Australia has evidence that I have intimidated or placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff, I trust that Senator Brandis will request of the Screen Australia Board to make this publicly known and have me (at my own request) branded a liar. If Screen Australia can provide no evidence at all in any of my correspondence of the crimes for which I have been tried and committed (without being provided with any evidence or an opportunity to defend myself) I am owed an apology and the ban on me should be lifted.

Your ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer will help resolve this dispute one way or another and I hope that you do not take the “I don’t recollect” option.

best wishes

James Ricketson

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