Former UK ambassador and her husband detained by Myanmar generals. Vicky Bowman and her husband, Htein Lin, were detained in Yangon, and they are reportedly being investigated for violating immigration laws. Let’s see who is Vicky Bowman and why was she arrested in Myanmar below
Who is Vicky Bowman?
Vicky Bowman, a former British ambassador to Myanmar/Burma, and her husband Htein Lin were detained on August 24, and CSW has demanded their immediate and unconditional release. Both Ms. Bowman and Mr. Lin have been charged with violating visa regulations. The couple is being detained at Insein prison in Yangon ahead of their trial, which is set to begin on September 6. They risk a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
From 2002 to 2006, Ms. Bowman represented the UK as ambassador to Myanmar. Currently, she is the director of the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business. Her husband is a former political prisoner and artist from Burma. Following the military coup in February 2021, there have been extensive crackdowns on activists, political figures, and other dissidents for more than 18 months.
The Myanmar army stated on July 25, 2022, that it had executed four democratic campaigners who had been charged with aiding in “terror actions,” the nation’s first legal executions since 1990. They had been remanded in detention and were being transported to the notorious Insein prison, which is located outside of Yangon, the country’s commercial city. Their young kid was still “safe and well,” the source claimed.
Who is Htein Lin?
Htein Lin, a well-known artist, and Vicky Bowman’s husband, is a former political prisoner. The two have been sent to Yangon’s notorious Insein prison, and a trial is set for the following week. The couple’s 14-year-old daughter is “safe and well,” according to sources. Human rights abuses have allegedly been committed on a large scale by the military government in Burma In light of the ongoing civil war, generals earlier this month decided to prolong the state of emergency until 2023. Following the collapse of Aung Sung Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government, the junta seized control last year. Over 15,200 people have been detained, including over 12,100 who are still behind bars.
Several foreigners, including an American journalist named Danny Fenster who was freed from prison in November after spending over six months there, were among those detained. Aung San Suu Kyi’s Australian economic advisor Sean Turnell is standing trial with her on suspicion of breaking the official secrets act.
Reason for Vicky Bowman and Htein Lin’s Detention:
Sean Turnell, an Australian professor, was detained in Insein prison before being transferred to a different cell in the capital, Naypyitaw, where he is currently being tried alongside former Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi for allegedly breaking the nation’s official secrets law.
The couple is under investigation under the Immigration Act, according to a statement from the junta later on Thursday, for residing at a different address than Ms. Bowman’s official registration specified after moving to a different town. Vicky Bowman breached Section 13(1) of the Immigration Act, according to the statement sent to the media. The statute entails a prison term of between six months and five years. “Htein Lin enabled the infractions without notifying the authorities while knowing that his wife had moved to Kalaw and remained there. He was so charged following section 13/1.”
The junta did not say if the pair were being held in prison. CSW demands Vicky Bowman and Htein Lin release: Benedict Rogers stated: “CSW urges for the immediate and unconditional release of Vicky Bowman and Htein Lin, both of whom have been targeted as part of the ongoing, ubiquitous crackdown by the Myanmar army on anyone it deems to be a threat or a critic of the regime.
It is without a doubt a sign of their terrible treatment of lesser-known activists and regular inhabitants of Myanmar that they can abuse a former ambassador in such a way. The necessity for significant and coordinated sanctions against the Myanmar military and its businesses, as well as for a comprehensive global arms embargo, must not go unnoticed by the international community.
Bowman has a long history with Myanmar.
The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office told the ABC that it was “concerned” about the detention of a British woman in Myanmar. In a statement, it stated, “We are in communication with the local authorities and are offering consular support.” Ms. Bowman has more than three decades of experience in Myanmar and held the position of ambassador there from 2002 to 2006.
Her husband is a well-known artist in Myanmar and a long-time activist who was imprisoned for more than six years between 1998 and 2004 due to his opposition to a previous dictatorship. He caught the eye of then-ambassador Ms. Bowman for a series of paintings he had created while incarcerated using illegal supplies when he was released in 2004. They got married in 2006 after she persuaded him to let her take the artwork for his protection.
Since the military ousted an elected government in early 2021, Myanmar has been in political and economic disarray. According to the activist group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, over 15,000 people have been detained and over 12,119 have been imprisoned. These numbers, according to the junta, which has been battling armed rebellion all over the nation, were overstated.
The UK announcement.
The UK had just issued new sanctions against companies in Myanmar with connections to the military when Ms. Bowman was detained. The UK government said in a statement that “they are being sanctioned to limit the military’s access to armaments and revenue.”
The Gambia v. Myanmar lawsuit is currently before the International Court of Justice. The UK’s Minister for Asia, Amanda Milling, affirmed the country’s intention to intervene in the case. She stated in a statement that the case would examine whether Myanmar had broken any of its responsibilities under the Genocide Convention concerning the military’s actions against the Rohingya in 2016 and 2017. “Those who want to undermine and destroy our ideals of freedom and democracy will always be met with resistance by the UK.
Five years later, we still oppose the Myanmar armed forces’ heinous ethnic cleansing program and stand in solidarity with the Rohingya people. “Our decision to intervene in the Gambia v. Myanmar case and impose additional sanctions sends a strong signal of our continued support for the effort to hold those responsible for the atrocities in 2017 accountable while also limiting the military junta’s access to finance and the supply of arms,” the decision to intervene in the case reads.
Following the Maldives, the Netherlands, and Canada, Britain is the fourth nation to formally pledge support for the case. Since the coup in 2021, relations between the UK and Myanmar have deteriorated. The junta called the recent reduction of Britain’s mission in the nation “unacceptable” earlier this year.
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Lavanya (Senior Editor) is a full-time content writer with almost 5 years of experience and a part-time teacher. She joined Medico Topics on the Breaking News trainee scheme in 2022 and now works on MedicoTopics.com. As a lifelong learner, She is constantly curious about learning new things and passionate about sharing knowledge with people through her writing and teaching.