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BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: JAMES MAWDSLEY OCTOBER 22ND, 2000

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Now James Mawdsley spent his first night back on British soil last night after his ordeal in a Burmese jail. James was in solitary confinement for over a year and suffered beatings by the prison guards, is here with us now, well welcome home James.

JAMES MAWDSLEY: Good morning David.

DAVID FROST: What, what is your main memory of those 415 days, maybe the, the beatings?

JAMES MAWDSLEY: Not really, the guards and the prisoners who were involved in doing that, they hate the regime as well, you know, they were forced and after a year I got to know some of them quite well, when they had the opportunity they would give me great help with information or food when I needed it, for example they'd tip me off when there might be a Consular visit or a family visit and tell me who was coming and when, because the prison authorities would never tell me that, it would be a surprise visit.

DAVID FROST: And your nose from here looks perfectly well, is it all right?

JAMES MAWDSLEY: It is now but it wasn't then, believe me it was fairly squashed and bent.

DAVID FROST: Right. What, what can you do now, you said, much, I'm sure, to the relief of your family that you're not planning to go back to Burma, how can you carry on the battle from here?

JAMES MAWDSLEY: I think I need a quiet time just to think, speak to David Alton ??? and the Jubilee Campaign who have done heaps of work to keep me well and get me out and I'll just be quiet for a while and thinks what's best next. But I'm determined to continue and increase, relentlessly increase the pressure on the junta and I hope the whole international community does the same, press for charges for genocide against the junta.

DAVID FROST: What was it really that got you interested in this in the first place, there's a lot of injustice in the world but you focused on the lot of injustice that there is in Burma, why Burma?

JAMES MAWDSLEY: It was just, there's either something deep inside me which was waiting for a trigger about Burma and I once saw an article about child labour, forced labour of children in the paper, about four years ago and I just thought, that's so wrong, the children should be in school. But the junta hate education, they do not want an educated population because they cannot dominate them, they cannot dominate educated people so we need to go out there and people shouldn't go out and demonstrate like I did if they're not called to do it, but go out and teach, especially on the border, teach the refugees, law, medicine, computers, reading English, let them be given the power of education and then they will be able to fight for themselves against this junta. Not with weapons but with, with words and democracy.

DAVID FROST: And really you and the leader are the two people really, courageous battles and so on, you are the two people now who are a focus of what could happen to save democracy?

JAMES MAWDSLEY: Well Aung San Sui Kyi is another reason why I went there, she is so valuable to the whole world, she's such a rare woman, her strength and her fight and we owe her so much, our duty to Burma to support her and all the people of Burma but people like her and my Burmese lawyer Suchi Win who really risked his neck to help me, this is Burmese people risking themselves to help me. Now cannot we, our country, help Burmese people, you know.

DAVID FROST: Absolutely, well good luck in your battle.

JAMES MAWDSLEY: Thank you very much.

DAVID FROST: We're glad you're back.

JAMES MAWDSLEY: So am I.

DAVID FROST: It could have been 17 years, couldn't it?

JAMES MAWDSLEY: Well thanks to my family and the Jubilee Campaign I'm out.

DAVID FROST: Absolutely, the story there of James Mawsdley and his crusade.

END

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