James Mawdsley

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For the 19th century trade unionist, see James Mawdsley (trade unionist).

James Rupert Russell Mawdsley is a Catholic Priest in the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, who is also a human rights activist campaigning for democracy in Burma. He is a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and Australia.[1]

Early life[edit]

Mawdsley was born in 1973. His parents are David and Diana, and he has three siblings.[2] He gave up his study at Bristol University, and while backpacking met Burmese refugees who engaged his interest in the plight of ethnic minorities in Burma.[2]

Burmese activism and imprisonment[edit]

Mawdsley took up teaching English at a Burmese refugee camp, and became further involved when government forces burnt down the school.[1]

He was arrested three times for his involvement[2] and deported three times. The second arrest was in 1998 for handing out stickers and playing songs for the pro-democracy movement.[2] On arrest he was tortured for 15 hours,[2] and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, which was suspended after 98 days.[1] He was rearrested a third time in 1999 for illegal entry and sedition, and was sentenced to seventeen years in jail.[1] His imprisonment was held to be arbitrary by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in 2000.[3] This time he spent 415 days in solitary confinement before his release in October 2000 after pressure was exerted by the United Kingdom Foreign Office on the authorities in Myanmar.[4]

External activism and politics[edit]

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.[5]

At the 2004 European Parliament election, Mawdsley was a candidate on the Conservative Party list for the North West England.[6] Howeverm he was placed ninth on the list, so was not one of the three Conservatives who won a seat. In the UK 2005 general election, he unsuccessfully contested the Hyndburn constituency for the Conservative Party.[7][8]

He wrote The Heart Must Break: the Fight for Democracy and Truth in Burma, published in the US as The Iron Road: A Stand for Truth and Democracy in Burma.[9][10]

Priestley Fraternity of St.Peter[edit]

He is now a Catholic Priest with the FSSP, currently serving at St Mary's Church, Warrington,[6] having studied to become a Priest at the FSSP seminary at Wigratzbad in Germany.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "British activist jailed in Burma". BBC News. 2 September 1999. Retrieved 17 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Lane, Harriet (9 January 2000). "'I half want my son to stay in his Burma jail hell'". The Observer. Retrieved 17 November 2014. 
  3. ^ "James Mawdsley v. Myanmar". Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2001/14/Add.1 at 124. University of Minnesota Human Rights Library. 2000. Retrieved 17 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "2000: British activist freed from Burma". BBC On This Day. 2005. Retrieved 17 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Dr Fox reaches out to right in confident performance
  6. ^ a b c http://www.lms.org.uk/news-and-events/fssp-magazines/dowry-winter-no17
  7. ^ "Hyndburn". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "Result: Hyndburn". Election 2005. BBC News. 6 May 2005. Retrieved 17 November 2014. 
  9. ^ Mawdsley, James (2001). The heart must break : the fight for democracy and truth in Burma. London: Century. ISBN 9780712679213. 
  10. ^ Mawdsley, James (2001). The iron road : a stand for truth and democracy in Burma (1st American ed.). New York: North Point Press. ISBN 9780865476370. 

External links[edit]