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Caroline Gammell, PA News

Press Association (UK) 19 August 2000. The parents of a human rights
activist sentenced to 17 years in a Burmese jail reacted with shock and
anger today after reports that his appeal had failed.

James Mawdsley, 27, of Lancashire, was jailed last September for
distributing pro-democracy pamphlets in Burma.

He has spent the majority of his prison term so far in solitary confinement.

"The whole country is constipated," said his father, David Mawdsley.
"Everything has to come from the top. They are very cruel people and this
is what James is trying to draw attention to."   James' mother, who is
separated from her husband, was also deeply upset  by the report.

"I am glad at least to know," she said. "But the case against James could
not possibly stand up in any decently ordered society.

"If it is true, this is the end of the legal side. There is no independent 
legal body."

The Foreign Office was unable to confirm the report.

A spokesperson said: "We have not got any confirmation. His lawyer has not got
in contact with us."

Mr Mawdsley was positive about the report, saying: "I have not been 
informed by
the Foreign Office but I am sure we can take it a stage further.

"We have Lord Daniel Brennan QC ready to take on James' case as long he is
granted a visa.  "Lord Brennan has represented people abroad before - he
understands the total  injustice of James' situation and has volunteered 
his services."

Mr Mawdsley spoke to James last month and saw him in June. He said his son
had been keeping fit by doing circuits and weight training.

"He looked remarkably well," he said. "He has been doing weight training using
water bottles as weights.

"It is the solitary confinement that is really getting to him."

Mawdsley, who also holds an Australian passport, was arrested in Burma twice
before, and in 1998 he served 99 days of a seven-year sentence before being
pardoned on condition he would not return to Burma. After his release he said
he had been tortured.

He is now imprisoned in the remote north eastern town of Keng Tung, 390 miles
north east of Rangoon.