Burma (BURMA): JAMES MAWDLSEY RELEASE SHOULD BE FIRST OF MANY

Amnesty International UK Communications Director Mark Lattimer said:

'James Mawdsley's release should be the harbinger of release of prisoners of conscience right across Burma.

While Mr Mawdsley's release is extremely welcome it is now tremendously important that all those with influence over the Burmese authorities – including the UK Government – press for the release of all prisoners of conscience in the country.'

According to media and other reports, James Mawdlsey was beaten on three consecutive days and handcuffed for 24 hours in September 2000. According to newspaper reports, his first beating occurred on 21 September 2000, after he wrote 'release all political prisoners' on his cells walls; it was reported that less than a minute later about 15 guards and other men burst in and beat him, some with wooden clubs. It was reported that on another day he wrote metta (peace) and a Christian cross on his wall in water and was again beaten.

Amnesty International is aware that political prisoners in Burma are often tortured during interrogation by Military Intelligence after they are arrested. After sentencing they can also be tortured if they break arbitrary and harsh prison rules. Prison conditions are extremely poor. Political prisoners are denied adequate food, medical care, and sanitation. Dozens have died through lack of proper care. Prison conditions are poor with inadequate food, lack of access to medical care, over-crowding, etc. Ill-treatment and prison conditions mean deaths in custody are not uncommon.

Over a thousand political prisoners are presently held in Burma.

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