Patrick Burgess worked as director of the UN’s human rights program in East Timor and with emergency relief after the genocide in Rwanda as well as in the Congo, Uganda, India, Nepal, Yemen and Indonesia. He has been a barrister, a truck driver, a barman and a professional lifeguard, crossed Africa by bicycle and dug-out canoe, sailed across the Pacific Ocean, hitched across the United States, lived in the Himalayas and surfed big waves in many remote islands. These are the stories he collected along the way…

‘Ground Zero’, includes a range of songs that are stories about Iraq, Cambodia, East Timor, New York, taxi drivers, pirates, paramedics, surfing and modern day pirates. Produced in Sydney, many of the tracks have generous help from a range of Sydney musicians including Rob Hirst and Martin Rotsey of Midnight Oil.

Patrick is currently working on human rights issues in Afghanistan, Burundi, Rwanda, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Burma, Vietnam, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands as president of Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR), a non-profit human rights organization he co-founded with his Indonesian human rights activist wife Galuh Wandita based in Bali. This includes meetings with the Deputy Minister for Justice in Vietnam on legal aid and the Chief Justice in Burma plus hosting public events in support of victims of torture with ex political prisoners and other survivors.

Musically, Patrick has played in original and covers bands in Sydney while he finished his arts and law degrees and then took to the road. He drove taxis and trucks, waited tables, dug ditches, worked as a lifeguard, hitch hiked across the USA, did volunteer work with Mother Theresa’s hospice in Calcutta, taught school in Nepal, crossed the Pacific as crew on a yacht, busked in Paris, crossed Africa by bicycle and dug-out canoe and spent a couple of years living with the Tibetans in the Himalayas. He always carried a small guitar on the road, writing songs and jamming with the locals along the way.

When the wandering path narrowed he came home to put his law degree to work, first a solicitor working for Chris Murphy’s Lawyers in Sydney before becoming a barrister specializing in criminal trials, with chambers across the road from the Downing Centre Courts. He was appointed Senior Member of the Australian Refugee Review Tribunal and for a short period headed up the Tribunal, with the heavy responsibility of making decisions on appeals from government rejection of asylum applications.

When the genocide took place in Rwanda in 1994 Pat went to the Zairean border refugee camps with CARE Australia, and was soon made head of their program in the refugee camps, responsible for 1,700 staff and maintaining an emergency tent orphanage for 1,400 kids whose parents had been killed during the mass violence. He followed this by mixing his law career with other humanitarian emergency programs in Yemen, Rwanda, DRC, East Timor and Indonesia. He was hired by the United Nations to head up their human rights programs for two UN Peacekeeping missions in East Timor, where he was personally attacked by armed militia and went on to stay for six years before broadening the work to focus on war crimes and justice for mass human rights violations across the Asia region.

One of Patrick’s recent projects grew from a collaboration with Aung San Suu Kyi to bring life to her idea of a ‘soap opera’ TV series with human rights themes in Burma. He was the co-creator and writer of the first series of “The Sun, the Moon and the Truth” an eight hour series that has been a major success, having been viewed by over 5 million people in Burma. The scripts for the second series are finished and it is now in production, with another series being produced for Timor Leste funded by the European Union.

Ground Zero is available online now through
iTunes :: Bandcamp :: CD Baby