Saturday, August 10, 2013


That Citipointe church stole the daughters of a poor Cambodian family is not a defamatory assertion. It is a statement of fact. A verifiable statement of fact. The circumstances surrounding the illegal removal of Rosa (aged 6) and Chita (aged 5) from their parents Chanti and Chhork five years ago is well documented on film and in a written blog record:

If Citipopinte believes my accusation to be defamatory, the church is free to sue me for defamation. Indeed, it has threatened to do on a few occasions this past five years.

Citipointe has not carried out its threats because fit knows that a court case held in Australia that relied on facts, on evidence (in the form of legal documents or the lack thereof) would reveal the church to be guilty as charged. 

In Cambodia,on the other hand, Citipointe can act with impunity, knowing full well that there is no government  body (and most certainly not the Ministry of Social Affairs!) no NGO (not even the country's leading human rights organisation, LICADHO) that will ask the church to produce evidence that it acted legally when it removed Rosa and Chita from their family five years ago contrary to the express wishes of their parents - Chanti and Chhork.
When it became apparent to the church that legal threats would not deter me from advocating on behalf of the parents for the return of their daughters, Citipointe's Pastor Brian Mulheran wrote me a letter in which the made the scarcely veiled threat that the church would have me arrested, charged, jailed and refused permission to visit Cambodia again if I did not cease and desist in my criticism of the church:
This attempt at intimidation did not work. 
My many attempts, over a period of five years now, to obtain the release of Rosa and Chita from the Christian institution in which they are incarcerated, have all failed. Whilst Cambodia is awash with NGOs committed to reusing  girls and women from the sex trade there is not one committed to rescuing girls from NGOs who trick poor, illiterate Cambodian parents into placing their daughters in temporary care, only to find that their children are now effectively 'owned' by the NGO in question such that the parents have few or any rights at all.

Unscrupulous NGOs can then exploit these children (as 'orphans' or 'victims of human trafficking') in order to raise money through donations and sponsorships - the donors and sponsors in Australia and elsewhere unaware that the children are not 'orphans' at all; that they are to 'victims of human trafficking'. Such scams are not only common in Cambodia but,through its collective silence, more or less endorsed by the local expatriate NGO community.

My latest letter to Senior Pastor Leigh Ramsay at Citipointe church speaks for itself: 

Leigh Ramsay
322 Wecker Road
QLD 4152

8th. August 2013

Dear Leigh

Chanti greeted me yesterday with the news that Rosa and Chita would be coming home to live with the family very soon. I asked Chanti how soon. Her brow creased with a frown and she said “Maybe one month, maybe two month.” Even Chanti’s hope that she will be reunited with her daughters is tempered these days by her experience of being lied to so often by yourself.

You have been making these kinds of promises to Chanti this for five years now, Leigh. I wonder if, on this occasion, there is any truth in your promise? Or if it is just another Leigh Ramsay lie to keep hope alive in Chanti and Chhork’s hearts?

If indeed Rosa and Chita are to be re-integrated with their family, what role does Citipointe see itself playing in the girls’ lives from here on in? Will the church be making any financial commitment at all to helping Rosa and Chita’s family for the next few years as it struggles to attain (and maintain) self-sufficiency?

In reality, Rosa and Chita’s family does not need much more in the way of financial support. It is very close to being self-sufficient. As you know, I have bought the family a home ($1,000), a tuk tuk ($1,500) and a block of land adjoining their home (for the growing of vegetables, chickens, ducks and pigs) for a further $1,400. It has cost me around $4,000 to make Chanti and Chhork’s family close to self-sufficient. I am sure that my financial assistance will be required in the future but it will, of necessity, be minimal.

What, by way of contrast, has Citipointe done to assist Chanti and Chhork’s family achieve self-sufficiency this past five years? The answer is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not only has your church failed to provide any financial assistance at all (and I mean zero assistance), Citipointe has also exploited Chanti and the parents of other girls in the SHE refuge by paying her 25 cents to manufacture an artifact that the church sold online for $3. In addition to this, Citipointe has been exploiting Rosa and Chita by presenting them to donors and sponsors as victims of human trafficking when in reality, they are the victims of kidnapping by your church – a crime committed five years ago when you got Chanti to place her thumb print on a sham contract and then told her that she had signed her daughters into the care of Citipointe until they were 18 years old. A lie, of course. The contract contains no such condition and, even if it did, is not the kind of legal document upon which your church can claim to have a legal right to remove the daughters of a poor Cambodian family against the express wishes of their parents.

Citipointe revealed its true colours earlier this year when your church refused to provide any medical assistance to Chanti, 8 months pregnant and with pneumonia. Citipointe would not even contribute the $100 necessary for Chanti to receive treatment for the high fever (caused by the pneumonia) that threatened both mother and child in the final month of Chanti’s pregnancy. This callous disregard for Chanti and her soon-to-be born child’s well-being is indicative of your church’s attitude towards Chanti, towards Chhork and the family as a whole.

Nothing in Citipointe’s behavior surprises me at all anymore. Your church is devoid of the moral and ethical principles that you should, as Christians, carry into this poor third world country. If you were to behave in Australia as you do here you would be in court facing charges of deprivation of liberty, kidnapping or some other similar charges relating to the illegal removal of children from their poor families. You can behave as you do in Cambodia with impunity because there is no government body here to prevent your church from doing pretty much as it pleases. And because organizations such as Chab Dai and LICADHO turn a blind eye to human rights abuses perpetrated by Christian NGOs.

Given that Chanti and Chhork are land and home owners, (in Prey Veng), given that Chhork earns a decent living driving a tuk tuk, the only explanation I can come up with as to why the Ministry of Social Affairs does not insist that Rosa and Chita be returned to their family is either incompetence within the Ministry or corruption. Or perhaps a mixture of both. These girls were never ever victims of anything other than the illegal removal from the care of their parents by Citipointe church five years ago.

If Citipointe is serious about returning Rosa and Chita to their family, provide Chanti and Chhork with a timetable, in writing, and with an indication as to what, if anything, the church intends to do to assist the family into the future. If, as Rebecca Brewer made clear in writing five years ago, Citipointe intends to keep Rosa and Chita until they are 18, you should, in all fairness to Chanti and Chhork, tell them this and stop lying about the imminent return of the girls.

Yet again I ask you, on behalf of Chanti, to (a) provide documented evidence that you had the legal right to remove Rosa and Chita from their family’s care five years ago and (b) copies of documents (contracts and agreements with the Ministry of Social Affairs) relating to your church’s maintenance of custody of the girls against the express wishes of their parents.

best wishes

James Ricketson

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