Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Julie Bishop not interested in asking Citipointe for a copy of the 2008 MOU the church claims gave it the the legal right to remove children from their families

Chita (left) and Rosa (right) - young members of the new Cambodian 'Stolen Generation' seen here with their mother, Chanti, during a rare home visit in 2013.

The Hon Julie Bishop
Minister for Foreign Affairs
House of Representatives, Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600                                                                           

19th March 2014

Dear Minister

It would seem my letters have been relegated to the ‘Too Hard’ basket or, perhaps, ‘Of No Interest’ basket. Perhaps because the children that were illegally removed by Citipointe in 2008 are Buddhist, brown-skinned and poor and their parents do not live in a marginal seat! As for the church that illegally removed the children, they are fair-skinned Australian Christians who vote and may even be financial contributors to the Liberal Party!

Please excuse my cynicism but it is pretty much the only response available to me when no-one from the Minister of Foreign Affairs down is prepared to ask Citipointe to produce a copy of the MOU that the church claims gave it the legal right to remove the daughters of materially poor Cambodians from their families in mid-2008.  

Why, given the simplicity of the action required (photocopy/scan and send) has it not been possible, despite five years of asking, for the parents (Chanti and Chhork) to acquire a copy of the MOU?  The answer is simple: there is no MOU that gave the church the rights it  exercised in 2008. Citipointe has broken Cambodian law. Simple as that.

More importantly, in the present context, is the question:

“Why has no-one from your office, no-one from AusAID, no-one from the Australian Council for International Development asked Citipointe church to produce a copy of this 2008 MOU?”

Could it be that if the church is never asked to produce it, those who should have asked for it (your own office included) can claim with some plausibility, when the truth comes out (as it will), they had no idea that Citipointe had, in accordance with Cambodian law, illegally removed the girls.

On the other hand, if Citipointe is asked for a copy of the MOU and it becomes apparent that the church had no legal right of removal, a veritable Pandora’s Box of questions arise which could be summed up as:

“Why, this past five years, has Citipointe church been able to get away with the illegal removal of Cambodian children in 2008 when Mr Ricketson, on behalf of the parents (Chanti and Chhork) has been pointing out the illegality of the church’s actions in dozens of letters?”

I imagine that a gaggle of DFAT and AusAID Spin Doctors may be able to turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse but it would not be an easy task.

best wishes

James Ricketson

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