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British activist jailed in Myanmar

AP Worldstream
October 16, 2000

British activist jailed in Myanmar to be released: [British]  government

A British human rights activist held in a Myanmar jail for more
than a year is to be released, the British government said Monday.

Foreign Office Minister John Battle said Myanmar ambassador
Kyaw Win had told him that James Mawdsley would be freed
and deported to Britain. The exact timing of the release was not

Mawdsley, 27, was sentenced last year to 17 years in prison after
he sneaked into Myanmar, also known as Burma, to protest against
the military regime. He was charged with immigration offenses
and violating a publications law by handing out pro-democracy leaflets.

''I'm delighted. I'm choking up on this news,'' said Mawdsley's father,
David Mawdsley. ''All the family are phoning each other up madly.
It's just overwhelming, fantastic.

''It just shows the Burmese junta will listen when international pressure
is strong enough.''

Last week the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
ruled that Mawdsley was being held in jail unlawfully.

''I am relieved that the Burmese regime has recognized that there
is no justification in keeping James in prison and has decided to
deport him as soon as possible,'' said Battle.

''I am delighted that James and his family will be reunited very
shortly and that all the efforts made by our Foreign Office staff,
our ambassador in Rangoon, the family and the campaign groups,
together with the support of our international partners, have achieved
their aim,'' he added.

Mawdsley, from Lancashire in northwest England, had been arrested
in Myanmar twice before. In 1998 he served 99 days of a seven-year
sentence. He was pardoned on condition he not return to the country.

Last month, British consular officials reported that Mawdsley had been
beaten by guards at remote Keng Tung prison, 630 kilometers (390 miles)
northeast of the capital, Yangon. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook
condemned the alleged attack as ''an outrageous violation of his human

The Myanmar government said Mawdsley had injured himself ''accidentally''
in a scuffle.