Two years ago I protested on the Perth causeway, at rush hour on a Monday morning, to draw attention to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. My father rang me that night to tell me about his day. A taciturn man, my Dad is not given to words unless theyre necessary. I have rarely seen him pick up the phone voluntarily. My stomach sank as he began, "My bus was delayed this morning by protesters waving placards saying, Landmines Kill Civilians. I wonder what good they thought they were doing?"
Silently I tensed as Dad continued, "It reminded me of the Vietnam War protesters. I thought they were students without a clue about life. Now I agree wholeheartedly with them and I thought, This landmines issue is something Anne would protest." Speechless, but breathing again, I listened to Dad laughingly finish, "Then I looked over and saw you in the group in the middle of the causeway, talking with police. Dont worry love, I broke it gently to your mother. Someday well think about landmines the way we think about the Vietnam War." An astonishing change in mindset for my father!
It is such a mindset change that author Paul Davies and photographer Nic Dunlop are hoping to effect with their book War of the Mines: Cambodia, Landmines and the Impoverishment of a Nation. Both came to the project as a result of personal experience with landmine victims. They were shocked at the extent of civilian injury and death from landmines, which continue killing after a cease-fire. Davies and Dunlop became convinced that "to witness such events without acting would amount to complicity" in a world where every 20 minutes someone is killed or maimed by an anti-personnel landmine. The outcome is a meticulous case study of the effect of landmine warfare in Cambodia.