The Burmese military have refused to allow the appeal for James Mawdsley, the Christian human rights campaigner jailed for 17 years in Burma, to be heard in the High Court at Mandalay. James, 27, was jailed on 31 August 1999 for a peaceful protest against the military's human rights record. He has spent almost one year in solitary confinement. His appeal was prevented from being admitted at a Township Court earlier this year and was rejected from the High Court on 19 August. It was reported that the admissions hearing to the High Court took place in a military court and was presided over by a military judge, despite James not being a soldier or involved in any military activity. Diana Mawdsley, James' mother said: "We are angry but not surprised by this decision. Despite the fact that James entered the country legally and did nothing to incite violence, the Burmese military have not even heard the merits of the appeal. It is a clear indication that the military do not want to give James a voice to be able to defend and justify his actions." The Jubilee Campaign, who James supported before his trip to Burma, are now asking the British and Australian governments to raise the political pressure on the Burmese to release him. The only remaining hope for the legal route rests on a 'special appeal' that has been recommended by Mr Mawdsley's Burmese lawyer. The rejection of the appeal at the High Court comes after US senators and congressman, including Senator Lieberman who is running as Vice President with Al Gore, called for James' release in a letter to the Burmese authorities. This initiative is supported by a petition made to the U Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, highlighting the violations of international law in James' case and calling for his immediate deportation. James entered Burma legally and made his peaceful protest last year against the junta's genocide against the Karen, Karenni and Shan ethnic minorities and the suppression of democracy. Over 30,000 Karen civilians alone have died as a direct or indirect result of Burmese military action since 1992. James' arrest and sentencing for his protest happened within 10 hours, without his having access to a lawyer and before James even knew that he was in a court. If you would like more information about James Mawdsley, contact Mark Rowland at the Jubilee campaign on 01483 894 787.
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