Friday, August 23, 2013

Another letter for Pastor Leigh Ramsay re returning to Chanti and Chhork the daughters Citipointe church removed from their care illegally five years ago

Leigh Ramsay
322 Wecker Road
QLD 4152                                                                                          

21st  August 2013

Dear Leigh

Again, it comes as no surprise that you have not responded to my letter of 8th August. You have no respect whatsoever for the basic principles of transparency and accountability when it comes to Citipointe church’s dealings with Chanti and Chhork. You have no respect for their human rights or those of their daughters Rosa and Chita. You removed these children illegally from the care of their parents in mid 2008 using a sham ‘contract’ (a fact acknowledged by everyone who reads it) that you told Chanti she must sign. Being illiterate, Chanti could not read the document and had no knowledge of its contents other than what she was told.

Citipointe informed Chanti that the other person present when she applied her thumb print to the 31st July 2008 ‘contract’ was from LICADHO. Indeed, on several occasions in 2008 your staff (in emails and telephone conversations) referred to the removal of Rosa and Chita from the family as having the blessing of LICADHO; that it was LICADHO who insisted that Chanti’s visitation rights be limited from 2 hours every two weeks to two hours per month. Several times your staff said that the way in which the removal took place was in accordance with guidelines laid down by LICADHO and Chab Dai.

LICADHO, for five years now, has refused to either confirm nor deny that it was involved in the removal of Rosa and Chita from their parent’s care or that it was  LICADHO’S idea that a mothers visiting rights to her children be limited to 24 hours per year.

Whilst it is clear from the sham 31st. July 2008 document that Chanti’s reason for seeking assistance from Citipointe was poverty, Citipointe later sought to justify its action in keeping Rosa and Chita contrary to their parents express wishes by re-defining the girls as ‘victims of human trafficking.’ As you know, this is a lie. Rosa and Chita were never trafficked and never in danger of being trafficked. Their parents sought short term relief from Citipointe when in the midst of a serious financial crisis and when this crisis had passed, in Nov of 2008, asked for their daughters to be returned to them. Citipointe refused and continues, in August 2013, to do so.

Today, Chanti and Chhork are both land and home owners. They are living close to self-sufficient lives in a village where a substantial number of members of Chhork’s extended family lives. And yet Citipointe continues to refuse to release the girls back into the care of the family. You provide no reason for this. The Ministry of Social Affairs provides no reason for this and clearly has no interest in the legality of Citipointe’s actions in removing the girls in the first place or in seeing them returned to their family. In short, Citipointe is free to do whatever it likes with the girls in its care and there is no-one, no body, no organization, no government department, that will hold the church accountable. You can raise as much money from sponsors and donors as you like in your exploitation of Rosa and Chita as ‘victims of human trafficking’ and give none of the money raised in this deceitful way to help the family.

I am copying this letter to LICADHO and Chab Dai (as I have done all of my correspondence) in the hope that one or both organizations will put some pressure on you to provide documents demonstrating that the church’s removal of Rosa and Chita in mid 2008 was legal. As you know, the ‘contract’ you got Chanti to sign on 31st. July 2008 (not countersigned by anyone from your church or by a witness) is a worthless document from a legal point of view.  It provides Citipointe with none of the rights that the church claimed, to both Chanti and myself, that it did back in 2008.

From 31st July 2008 and for the following 15 months your church effectively, from a legal point of view, held Rosa and Chita as kidnap victims – severely limiting the parents access to them and refusing Chanti’s and Chhork’s every request that they be released back into their care. As I have been asking for close to five years now, if this statement is untrue, prove to Chab Dai, to LICADHO, to  Chanti, Chhork and myself  (Chanti’s legally appointed advocate) that it is untrue by producing whatever contract or other legal document the church has which reveals the legality of Citipointe’s actions in mid 2008.

After five years Chanti’s heart continues to break each and every time you promise to release the girls back into hers and Chhork’s care and then renege on that promise. And after five years my own patience has worn thin. If Rosa and Chita are not released back into the care of their parents in the next two weeks, and if Citipointe does not provide the parents, LICADHO and myself with copies of agreements and/or contracts pertaining to the legality of its actions in mid-2008, I will be left with no choice but to move to Plan B – the details of which I will keep to myself for tactical reasons.

I trust that it will not be necessary to move to Plan B and that LICADHO, at least, will insist that Citipointe (1) Prove the legality of its actions in mind 2008 in removing Rosa and Chita and (2) Explain why it is, in August 2013, that the church continues to hold Rosa and Chita against the express wishes of their parents Chanti and Chhork when they are land and home owners and have an income as secure as (indeed more secure than) the majority of Cambodians.

My last letter to you was published on my other blog – one which received around 10 times as many visitors as my Citipointe blog:

Chanti was in Phnom Penh yesterday with Chhork and baby Poppy. They came to visit me. Whilst they were here they received a phone call from Citipointe staff to tell them they were at Chanti and Chhork’s home in Prey Veng, with Rosa and Chita – for a visit. As has happened before, it does not occur to Citipointe to check with Chanti and Chhork to see if they are at home or if the day and time of the visit is convenient. Chhork works as a tuk tuk driver and cannot simply stop work because Citipointe arrives with his daughters unannounced. The arrogance of Citipointe church never ceases to amaze me – the lack of sensitivity, the presumption that Chanti and Chhork will always be at home and that any old time that Citipointe decides to organize a visit will be OK with them.

You should give up ‘rescuing’ the children of poor parents, Leigh, and leave the job of helping families achieve self-sufficiency to NGOs that know what they are doing and treat families with respect.

best wishes

James Ricketson

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