Monday, September 30, 2013
Citipointe to keep Rosa and Chita until they are 18 regardless of the legality of the church's actions
322 Wecker Road
30th Sept. 2013
As I am sure you now from experience, rarely in Cambodia are things ever quite as they seem to be.
Chanti did not leave Phnom Penh, as I thought to be the case on 26th Sept, but stayed to try to get the family’s tuk tuk back. Chanti had failed to tell me one small but vital piece of information relating to the theft (or I had failed to understand through a lack of interpreter) – namely that the family tuk tuk was ‘stolen’ by someone she knows; someone who Chanti borrowed money from 8 – 10 years ago to pay hospital bills and now wants me to repay it. I have met this woman several times before and she has never informed me of this outstanding debt.
If I repay Chanti’s close to decade-old $900 debt, this woman says, she will return the tuk tuk to Chanti and Chhork. I asked Chanti if she had borrowed money from this woman all those years ago. Chanti nodded, said yes, but could not remember how much. I asked the woman if she had any record of how much Chanti had borrowed 8 – 10 years ago. The answer was no. I told this woman, though an interpreter, that she could not simply steal Chanti and Chhork’s tuk tuk and then demand of me that I repay a decade old debt. She smiled and told me yes she could. I told her that I would go to the police. She laughed.
This woman has no paperwork to prove that Chanti borrowed a certain amount of money from her. Citipoint had no paperwork in mid 2008 to prove that the church had a legal right to remove Chanti’s children. In both cases the police are useless. This woman is rich (two Lexus’ in her back yard) and Chanti is poor. She cannot afford to pay whatever this woman pays to the police that makes her laugh at the idea that I might report her to them. So it is in Cambodia. Justice is for the rich, not the poor. And so it is that NGOs such a Citipointe can do what they like with and to the poor and powerless and laugh at the notion that the police might act in accordance with the law.
Other than two short sequences (one to be shot in Brisbane as I alert your congregation to Citipointe’s human rights abuses in Cambodia) my filming is at an end. Citipointe has won the battle. You have successfully kidnapped and held for more than five years the daughters of a poor Cambodian family with the blessing of Chab Dai, LICADHO and the indifference of the NGO community. As Rebecca Brewer wrote back in 2008, Citipointe will keep Rosa and Chita until they are 18. And there is no one in Cambodia to stop you – no Cambodian government department, no human rights organization, no cashed up NGO committed to the alleviation of poverty and the protection of the human rights of the Chanti and Chhorks of the world.
I should add here that after five years of inaction LICADHO has tried this past few weeks to help. It cannot. The NGO is powerless to do anything. And the English language media here will not even bother to ask any questions as to why and how these girls were removed in mid 2008 with a view to separating facts from allegations.
Your church will make a lot of money out of Rosa and Chita through donations and sponsorship over the coming years – not one cent of which will flow back to Chanti and her family. You will limit Rosa and Chita’s visits to their family severely, indoctrinate these young Buddhist girls into your own warped version of the Christian faith and then, at age 18, turf them back onto the street again to fend for themselves whilst Citipointe continues to recruit the daughters of poor Cambodian families and use them to raise money to fill the church’s coffers whilst leaving the rest of the family, as you have Chanti and her family this past five years, to fend for themselves.
In a few weeks I will be in a position to buy Chanti and Chhork a new tuk tuk so the family will be back on track again.