James Mawdsley to be freed

 By Danny Smith Christian human rights campaigner James Mawdsley, 27, is being released this week from his Burmese jail, after serving 411 days of his 17-year sentence in solitary confinement. The Burmese ambassador, who met with John Battle on Monday, informed him of the decision to deport James after intense international pressure. The news was greeted with jubilation and relief from James' parents David and Diana. Diana, who was in Burma visiting her son, will be able to return home with James. Both parents spoke of their "admiration and pride" for James who hopes his stand will bring an end to the genocide happening against Burma's ethnic minorities. "This is the news we've been campaigning for, for over a year," said Mark Rowland from Jubilee Campaign, the lobby group that has worked for James' freedom. "We knew that pressure was building up. In the end James' belief in justice and truth have won through. However, we cannot underestimate the part that thousands of supporters have played in continuing to pray, write letters and get involved with the campaign to get him released." Lord Alton of Liverpool, who played a pivotal role is securing James' freedom, said: "I am relieved and delighted that James is finally free. This is an epic example of one individual's sacrifice to challenge oppression. James has made his stand because of the appalling genocide against the Karen and other ethnic minorities in Burma. The international community must now listen and take action to stop this systematic abuse of human rights." Diplomatic pressure was heightened by the British, Australia and American governments because of the recent UN judgment that declared James was being arbitrarily detained. However, unofficial diplomacy behind the scenes was also a crucial influence in gaining James' release. The campaign for James gathered increasing public momentum through the months of his imprisonment. James entered Burma legally and made his peaceful protest on 31 August last year against the junta's genocide of Burma's ethnic minorities and the suppression of democracy. Over 30,000 Karen civilians have died as a direct or indirect result of Burmese military action since 1992. He says he will continue his campaign when he returns home.

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