Burmese junta sentences former UK ambassador to 1 year in prison

Vicky Bowman, photo by Nation Thailand.

After the Burmese junta arrested a former UK ambassador to Myanmar, along with her husband, on August 24, the junta yesterday sentenced them to a year in prison.

The former ambassador, Vicky Bowman, is the director of the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business. She served as the UK’s ambassador to Myanmar from 2002-2006. Her husband, Htein Lin, is a Burmese artist and former political prisoner. He was imprisoned for leading student protests against the old military junta in 1998 and released in 2004.

The junta said in a statement last week that it had charged Bowman with immigration offences. In its statement, the junta government claims that the address Bowman had registered to her visa didn’t match her residence. Breaching Myanmar’s Immigration Act can result in a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

UK officials and international human rights officials have spoken out against Bowman and Lin’s detainment.

The news of Bowman and Lin’s arrest came just as the UK government had announced new sanctions on Myanmar due to its violent ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya minority.

Myanmar’s junta government, which came to power through a coup in February 2021, has faced multiple accusations of human rights abuses and war crimes. The government is notorious for torturing and imprisoning ethnic minorities.

In July, in the first executions in Myanmar in decades, the military junta killed four democracy activists they accused of terrorist activities. Also in July, a Japanese documentary producer was imprisoned with two protesters after joining an anti-government protest in Yangon.

Time will tell if the international community will be able to pressure the Burmese junta to release Bowman and Lin.


World News

Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

Related Articles