Daniel Pedersen talks about Burma on the ABC-Genocide is not so secret anymore

Pedersen has dedicated the past eight years trying to dissect the complex web of Burmese politics, its military and the ethnic minority groups who are fighting for a share of their homeland.

With virtually no access to the ruling military junta, he has had to win over key figures from the ethnic minority armies to uncover the extent of the war which has raged for more than 60 years.

In the prologue to his soon to be released book, Secret Genocide, Pedersen writes: “This is a book about longing. About people longing for their homes, longing for their friends, longing for a sense of possession. About people being deprived of their very basic right to life.

“And no-one seems to care.”

Pedersen admits getting the story out to give the Western world an opportunity to “care” is an exercise in obstacles and potentially fatal consequences.

Add to that the Australian press, which either doesn’t understand or doesn’t see the news value in a long running war, so far away.

Pedersen, who now lives near the Thai-Burmese border, has returned to the family home at Airly, near Sale for a short while.

The reason for his visit, to reacquaint himself with his family. Perhaps too, he is hoping that distance will put the conflict into perspective.

“You’re talking about say, 50 million people and there’s been a great injustice done to so many, by so very few,” he told ABC Gippsland’s Mornings program.

“It’s interesting to explore the human motivation as to why people take up arms against the government.

“In the case of the Karen, it’s not very difficult to see why they take up arms. You have government troops coming in and burning down their schools, burning down their churches and then they go off somewhere a little bit safer and build them again, only to be discovered hiding there and the government comes and burns down the community facilities that they’ve built.”

Pedersen, the man, finds it difficult to comprehend.

Pedersen, the journalist, finds it difficult to put some balance in the story.

It’s not like the junta has a well-oiled public relations department.

“I haven’t travelled with militia aligned with the government troops, probably because you’d be arrested, possibly taken hostage,” he said.

“There is right and there is wrong in Burma and at the moment, what’s happening is wrong and as a contributor to human society, how do you contribute to stopping that injustice?

“How do you create a more equitable world? That’s the first step towards us moving forward as a society.”

Secret Genocide by Daniel Pedersen is published by Maverick House and will be released at the end of the month.


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