Thursday, May 22, 2014

(A) letter to Citipointe church's Pastor Leigh Ramsey, 5th May 2014

Leigh Ramsey
322 Wecker Road
QLD 4152                                                                                           

5th May 2014

Dear Leigh

It is a month now since Judge Keo Mony of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court found me guilty of having ‘threatened to dishonour Citipointe church’, fined me $1,500 and gave me a two year suspended jail sentence. This Kafkaesque exercise in legal nonsense was orchestrated and financed by your church.

A second lot of charges remain – ‘profiting from prostitution’ and ‘hindering’. Equally nonsensical! Citipointe is too gutless to level such absurd charges against me in Australia – a country in which there is rule of law; a country in which evidence, facts and truth would count for something in any legal action commenced by your church. Given the way the Cambodian judicial system works, however, either or both these charges could result in me receiving a custodial sentence – if this is what Citipointe wants to pay for.

I will return to Cambodia in the not-too-distant future and see what sentence the Phnom Penh Municipal Court decides (with the assistance of Citipointe) is appropriate for the wicked crimes of ‘profiting from prostitution’ and ‘hindering’.

Given that I will not be paying the $1,500 fine imposed by Judge Keo Mony, no doubt you and Citipointe’s lawyers will be giving some thought to the question of whether or not you really do want to have me jailed in Cambodia.  I suspect that your church will do whatever is required to prevent this from happening, since my incarceration would draw attention to Citipointe’s illegal activities in Cambodia. It would also raise questions as to the way in which Citipointe recently acquired its 100 ‘orphans’ in India and the extent to which the forced conversion of these 100 Indian girls will be paid for with AusAID approved tax-deductible dollars.

Whilst Citipointe can rely on AusAID and ACFID to ask no questions, my being in jail would, I suspect, induce some intrepid journalist to poke around and ask questions of the kind that Citipointe and its funding partner, the Global Development Group, would prefer not to answer. Yes,  Citipointe would then be able to employ its usual tactic - firing off threatening legal letters to any journalist with the temerity to ask questions. This tactic may well work with some journalists, some publications, but ultimately a fearless journalist will come along who is not deterred by such bullying, such intimidation.

Interestingly, whilst Citipointe’s vexatious accusations are dealt with by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, the complaint lodged by Chanti and Chhork against Citipointe church last year has been ignored by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. No prizes for guessing why that may be the case!

The two judges involved in the two court cases Citipointe has brought against me to date are not even remotely interested in whether the church broke Cambodian law in 2008 when it removed Rosa and Chita. And nor are Chanti and Chhork (or myself) in a position to pay the money required to get them interested. So, in the wonderful Alice in Wonderland world of the Cambodia judicial system, I can be found guilty of accusing Citipointe of stealing Rosa and Chita whilst Citipointe is under no obligation to provide evidence that the church did not steal the girls! And this farcical state of affairs (tragically farcical for Chanti and Chhork) has the blessing of ACFID, AusAID, DFAT and Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop!

Fortunately, Leigh, I retain my sense of humour – though it does desert me at those times when I see the distress that your ongoing illegal detention of Rosa and Chita causes for Chanti and Chhork. I feel particularly for Chhork as he is such a good man, dare I say a noble man. It is hard to imagine a better, more dedicated, more loving father than Chhork; a better husband for Chanti – a non-drinker, a non-gambler, a man who does not hit his wife or children and a hard worker. Chhork’s only ‘crime’ is that he was born into poverty and, without an education, without being able to read or write, it is an uphill battle for him to make a living. This makes him, and the many men like him in Cambodia, vulnerable to the kind of criminal activity your church engages in. Who can Chhork turn to? Who can any parent in Cambodia whose children have been stolen by your church (and by other similarly unscrupulous AusAID approved NGOs) turn to in their quest for justice? Nowhere. To no-one – unless they happen to chance upon someone like myself who is prepared to act as an advocate for them. Even then, as my experience of the last five years makes clear, they have a snowflake’s chance in hell of getting their children returned to them. They cannot compete with the Global Development Group’s annual $25 million war chest, they cannot compete with the total lack of interest on the part of Australia’s Ambassador to Cambodia, they cannot compete with ACFID’s apathy – a regulatory body whose main function is to create the illusion of due process in ‘investigating’ complaints. In reality, ACFID, in refusing to ask Citipointe or GDG for copies of legal documents, sets up terms of reference that guarantee no finding can be found against either Citipointe or GDG. This is unsurprising given Marc Purcell’s friendship with Geoff Armstrong; given that Geoff Armstrong is a member of Citipointe church and believes that tax-deductible Australian charity dollars are well spent removing children from the homes of their materially poor parents and forcing them to become Pentecostal Christians.

Citipointe, GDG, AusAID and ACFID are all part of a system that is corrupt and that should be the subject of the kind of investigation that ICAC in NSW is currently conducting. And I hope, when CHANTI’S WORLD is completed and screened, that the questions it raises my induce the Hon Julie Bishop to order a thorough and independent investigation into the way in which foreign aid, channeled through unscrupulous NGOs such as Citipointe’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’ and the GDG, are not only in breach of AusAID rules, in breach of the laws of the countries they work in but are behaving in ways that would, in Australia, see their senior management in court facing serious charges relating to the abduction, illegal removal, kidnapping etc of the children of vulnerable parents.

I hope that Geoff Armstrong and the GDG board, to whom I am copying this letter, will find plenty in it to commence legal proceedings against me in Australia. They will find ample evidence, but no legal proceedings will commence because GDG has no desire, any more than Citipointe does, to have a spotlight shone on the NGO’s activities overseas.

With such powerful allies in AusAID, ACFID etc, Citipointe will continue to win battle after battle in the ongoing efforts made by Chanti and Chhork (with my assistance) to get their daughters back. When CHANTI’S WORLD (both the film and the book) are released, however, it will become apparent that your corrupt church has lost the war.

best wishes

James Ricketson

cc The Hon Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Dr Sue-Anne Wallace, Chair, and members of the Australian Council for International Development, Code of Conduct Committee.
The Global Development Group

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