Wednesday, April 2, 2014
for Ambassador Alison Burrow re the moral cowardice of the Australian Embassy
Ms Alison Burrow
Ambassador to Cambodia
16B, National Assembly Street
Sangkat Tonle Bassac
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
3rd April 2014
Further to my letter to you of yesterday, 2nd March.
Second Secretary & Consul Mignon Bleach’s response, yesterday, is brief and to the point:
“On behalf of the Ambassador, your concerns have been noted. Should you request consular assistance, the Embassy stands ready to assist you in accordance with the Consular Services Charter.”
In the language of diplomacy this means, “Yes, we received your letter and will ignore it.” This comes as no surprise to me.
It is abundantly clear that there is no moral principle that the Australian Embassy will stand up for – be it protesting the illegal eviction of its neighbours by City Hall or the illegal removal of Cambodian children by Australian-based NGOs. You, as Australia’s Ambassador, refuse even to ask of Australian based NGOs, in receipt of AusAID approved funds, that they abide by Cambodian law and the ACFID Code of Conduct. This may well be in accordance with the ‘Consular Services Charter’ but it is a form of moral cowardice and, in a country with no effective rule of law, leaves unscrupulous Australian NGOs free to act as they please.
The second email of the day from Mignon Bleach (your #1 spin doctor, it seems) was to let me know that:
“At 2pm in Hall No. 1 today, the result of the trial that was held on 12 March 2014 for which you were absent will be announced. The charges were under Article 372 & 373 of the penal code.”
Alas, this email arrived after the court had delivered its verdict (2 year suspended jail sentence and $1,500 fine); after I had spent the morning in a stiflingly hot court building (with no electricity) speaking with two judges about my case and, finally, being provided with a copy of the summons that was never delivered to me; after I had been told by the second judge that I would be hearing from the court on one of the two phone numbers I gave him regarding my case. How and why I was sentenced at 2pm after my extensive conversations with two judges would be a mystery to me if I were not in Cambodia!
Not that it is of any interest to you, Citipoiinte alleges that I threatened to defame the church. Not that I did defame the church but that I threatened to do so! I wonder if there is any country in the world other than Cambodia in which it is possible to get a two year jail sentence for threatening to defame someone! Given that I have repeatedly accused the church of stealing Rosa and Chita, along with a lot of other girls, Citipointe could have cut to the chase and sued me for actual defamation. Perhaps the church did not take this obvious step because this (and the previous charges brought against me by the church) were not intended to secure a conviction but to intimidate me into leaving Cambodia!
The one positive thing to emerge from yesterday’s discussions with judges is that I now have two ways of using the Cambodian legal system to force Citipointe to provide Chanti and Chhork with copies of the MOUs that you, Ambassador, refuse to request of either Citipointe church or the Global Development Group. You are, from a moral point of view, an accessory to the human rights abuses they have perpetrated in Cambodia.