James Mawdsley suffers brutal beating

 James Mawdsley, the British human rights campaigner, sentenced to 17 years in a Burmese prison, has been badly beaten this week by 15 Burmese guards for rattling on his prison bars in protest at his solitary confinement. His mother, Diana Mawdsley, who is in Burma but has not been able to see her son, was informed in person by Frank Marshall, deputy head of missions in Rangoon, that James' body was black and blue, having been severely beaten for three consecutive days with bamboo poles. Diana Mawdsley, speaking from her hotel in Rangoon, told the Jubilee Campaign: "I am appalled and outraged to hear what they have done. I am also very worried that this beating will have ruptured his internal organs. James has protested because he was never sentenced to solitary confinement in the first place. James is no physical threat to anyone in prison." The British vice-consul was very concerned at the state of James' body. Karen Williams reported that James' nose was broken and he had two black eyes. The Foreign Office confirmed that Embassy staff have already made representation to the Burmese authorities for James' immediate release. James entered Burma legally and made his peaceful protest on 31 August last year against the junta's genocide of the Karen ethnic minorities and the suppression of democracy. Over 30,000 Karen civilians have died as a direct or indirect result of military action since 1992. James' arrest and sentencing for his protest happened within ten hours. He was not given a lawyer and did not know he was in a court. The Burmese military refused to allow the appeal against James' sentence to be heard in the High Court at Mandalay on 19 August. The appeal was prevented from being admitted at a Township Court earlier this year and was rejected from the High Court without giving James' lawyer a voice. Although one final special appeal court remains a possibility, it is likely that political pressure will be the only method to achieve James' release.

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