James Rupert Russell Mawdsley is a Catholic seminarian who is also a human rights activist campaigning for democracy in Burma. He is a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and Australia. He was born in 1972. He gave up his studying at Bristol University to teach English at a Burmese refugee camp
Mawdsley was arrested three times for his involvement and deported three times. He spent over a year in a prison in Myanmar during 1999 and 2000 and was also tortured, as part of a seventeen-year jail sentence, after taking part in pro-democracy protests in Rangoon.
His imprisonment was held to be arbitrary by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in 2000. Mawdsley was released from jail in October 2000 after pressure was exerted by the United Kingdom Foreign Office on the authorities in Myanmar. The Myanmar ruling regime, the so-called State Peace and Development Council or SPDC, tried to impose conditions on his release, for example that he would never return, but Mawdsley refused to sign the document or agree to any of the SPDC's conditions as the SPDC are not sovereign in Burma. In February 2003 he co-authored New Ground with Benedict Rogers, a pamphlet advocating foreign policy based around freedom, dignity and the rule of law. This document has helped give rise to the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, founded in 2005.