Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Letter to Citipointe and the Global Development Group re their joint refusal to provide Chanti and Chhork with a copy of the 2008 MOU which, the church claims, gave it the right to remove and detain Rosa and Chita until they were 18 years old

Pastors Brian Mulheran and Leigh Ramsey
322 Wecker Road
QLD 4152      

Directors of the Global Development Group Board
Unit 6, 734 Underwood Road
Rochedale, QLD 4123                                                                                               

David James Pearson
Geoffrey Winston Armstrong
Ofelia (fe) Luscombe
Alan Benson
David Robertson
12th March 2014

Dear Pastors Leigh Ramsay and Brian Mulheran (Citipointe church) Geoff Armstrong (Global Development Group) and members of the GDG board.

Citipointe church and the Global Development Group have decided, separately or in conjunction with each other, not to provide Chanti, Chhork, myself or any other interested party with a copy of the MOU that you have both claimed gave the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ the legal right to detain Rosa and Chita from 11th August 2008 onwards. Given Rebecca Brewer’s email of 11th August 2008 email to me, this MOU would have to have been entered into before 11th August 2008.

The reason for your conjoint refusal to provide anyone with a copy of the MOU is abundantly clear – namely that both Citipointe and GDG know (and have known for 5 years) that the pre-11th August 2008 MOU with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not give the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ the rights that both your NGOs have implemented to remove Rosa and Chita from their family.

Threats of legal action against me did deter me from acting on Chanti and Chhork’s behalf as an advocate. Your scarcely veiled threats, Brian, to have me arrested jailed etc, also did not deter me. I took this to be the bluff and bluster of a Pentecostal bully who is used to be able to get his own way through intimidation.

More recently an attempt has been made through the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to intimidate me. A document that has sat on file at the court since 30th Oct 2012 was suddenly activated two days after you, Geoff, wrote your curt letter to me in which you made reference to the yet-to-be-executed warrant. As my mother used to say, “I did not come down in the last shower!”

Citipointe and GDG can, of course, proceed down the path of intimidation if you so wish. Who knows, you may even find a Judge prepared to put me in jail and so fulfill your prophesy, Brian. This will only serve to draw maximum attention to Citipointe’s illegal removal and detention of Rosa and Chita in 2008. In many way, though I do not particularly wish to find myself in a Cambodian jail, my incarceration  would, at least, make this story newsworthy and you would all find yourself being asked a whole range of questions that you would prefer not to answer by print and TV journalists.

An alternative path to go down would be, in the most gracious way possible, with whatever saving of face your respective spin doctors can conjure up, to admit that you have, separately and in unison, broken Cambodian law by illegally removing Rosa and Chita from their family and abrogated the human rights of Chanti and Chhork’s entire family. You could acknowledge this and return Rosa and Chita to their family and that would be the end of it. Chanti and Chhork want nothing more than to get their daughters back.

Here is how it could happen with a minimum of trauma for Rosa and Chita:

(1) Rosa and Chita leave the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ and take up temporary residence in a non-denominational NGO home of some kind that has no affiliation with Citipointe.

(2) A sensible re-integration program is formulated by professionals experience in the complexities inherent in re-integration with the best interests of Rosa and Chia in mind.

(3) Over a period of a few months Rosa and Chita are (a) allowed visits to their family in Prey Veng and (b) their bothers, sisters, mother and father are allowed  visits to them in the non-denominational NGO in which they are now residing.

(4) This process of gradual re-integration is monitored and adjusted to take into account unforeseeable problems by professionals who know what they are doing.

(5) As this gradual re-integration process is taking place a second dwelling is be built on Chanti and Chhork’s property in Prey Veng. There is room for a second house and I will pay for the construction of it so that Rosa and Chita can have some of the personal privacy that I imagine they are accustomed to in the ‘SHE Rescue Home’.

(6) During this gradual re-integration process I will be looking into the various options open to Rosa and Chita to guarantee that they get a high quality education. This is a goal that I wish for all of Chanti and Chhork’s children. Srey Ka, James and Kevin are, at present, attending a private school in Prey Veng at my expense because the school in their village is not adequate to provide them with a good education.
It may well be that the only way that Rosa and Chita can get a high quality education is by going to a school in Phnom Penh. If so, I am in a position to pay their school fees and their boarding fees if necessary.

(7) Only when the re-integration process has achieved the above-mentioned goals should Rosa and Chita be returned to the full time care of their parents. This is not because Chanti and Chhork are anything other than good parents. It is an acknowledgment that the re-integration process will throw up problems, challenges, that must be met with the best interests of Rosa and Chita at heart.

Given the heartache that Citipointe church and the Global Development Group have caused Chanti, Chhork, Rosa and Chita, I think it appropriate that both NGOs compensate the family. My suggestion is as follows:

(a) A trust fund be set up by Citipointe and GDG to pay for the education of all of Chanti and Chhork’s children.

(b) This trust fund should be administered by a completely independent NGO with no affiliation with GDG, with Citipointe or with myself. It’s sole aim would be to pay legitimate school and university fees into the future. If, for whatever reason, any of  the 6 children drop out of school, the family receives no compensation for their education.

(c) If all 6 children go on to university their fees are paid for by GDG and Citipointe.

I stress, I will not and should not be involved in any way with the administration of this trust fund. And nor should GDG or Citipointe. It is imperative that the NGO controlling the funds is totally independent of all of us.

The fine tuning of the above suggestions will take some time but are achievable if there is a will, on the part of all parties, for some variation of them to be put into practice to see Rosa and Chita are re-integrated back into the family in the most appropriate way; in a way that minimizes  the traumatic impact of their being taken out of the world that they have lived in for close to six years and returned to the world of their family (nuclear and extended), the world of their community and the world of their Buddhist culture and religion.

If both Citipointe and the Global Development Group agree to the broad outlines of what I am suggesting here, perhaps the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) could play the role of independent arbiter – with the intention of guaranteeing the well-being of Rosa and Chita and with no regard at all for the vested interests of Citipointe, of the Global Development Group or myself.

I await your response to this letter with interest!

best wishes

James Ricketson

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