The Heart Must Break: Burma - Democracy and Truth by James Mawdsley
This is the story of James Mawdsley, a 27-year-old man from Lancashire who returned home to Britain in 2000 having endured 18 months of solitary confinement, torture and beatings in a Burmese prison. Sentenced to 17 years' imprisonment for his protests against the brutal military regime of the junta, this was not Mawdsley's first time of capture but his third trip to Burma, in what was a well-thought-out, determined exercise in his campaign to publicize human rights violation in a country terrorized by an illegal regime. Mawdsley describes how he came to leave university, and the promise of academic success, to pursue instead something more purposeful, charting with sensitivity, intelligence and humour, the experiences that lead him to Burma. He goes on to describe his fellow prisoners and his torturers with irony and a kind of sympathetic tenderness. He rejects any claim to heroism and instead reflects on his motives, his ability to survive such terror and isolation - how he discovered a kind of spiritual solace and peace despite his terrifying situation - and what now lies ahead, both for himself, with his new freedom, and for the people of Burma.