Out of jail and into a storm of protest

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A BRITISH democracy campaigner arrived home yesterday after being freed from a Burmese jail and was rounded on by rights campaigners when she refused to criticise the regime that jailed her.

Rachel Goldwyn, 28, from Barnes, south-west London, was sentenced to seven years for "endangering state security" after a solo protest against the Burmese government in September, when she tied herself to a lamppost in Rangoonand chanted slogans.

Yesterday, human rights groups accused her of doing a U-turn when she told a news conference she intended to return to Burma not to continue campaigning but to help the poor.

She was freed last week after her parents flew to the country to plead with the authorities.

Ms Goldwyn told reporters yesterday: "My world is a very confused place ... Please understand that one of my bail conditions is `not to interfere in the internal affairs of Myanmar [Burma]' and so do not look to me to pass critical comment. I am still committed to democracy but am now going to take on a dialogue role rather than a confrontational role."

Yvette Mahon, director of the Burma Campaign Group, said her action was a "selfish betrayal" of the Burmese people. "Rachel has shocked ... activists by refusing to speak out against Burma's brutal regime or the appalling human rights abuses the regime is best known for.

"Rachel entered Burma with the intention of getting arrested against all advice ... Having sought and gained media attention, she has failed to use the privilege of her position to tell the story of Burma's suffering. The irony is that Rachel was arrested for singing a song about never forgetting the thousands who have died for democracy in Burma. It appears she has been the first to forget."