(Reuters) – Authorities in Myanmar have detained the former British ambassador to the Southeast Asian country where the military junta seized power last year, three people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Vicky Bowman, who currently runs the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB), and her husband, Myanmar artist and former political prisoner Htein Lin, were detained on Wednesday, sources said, Question asked not to be named due to sensitivity.
Bowman and her husband have been charged with immigration offenses, a source with knowledge of the situation said.
Arrests follow UK announcement of new sanctions https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-statement-on-the-5th-anniversary-rohingya-crisis Targeted Myanmar military-related businesses and joined the case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice.
The United Kingdom is the fourth country after the Maldives, the Netherlands and Canada to vow to formally support the Gambia’s case against Myanmar to determine whether its military targeted Rohingya Muslims in 2016 and 2017 Genocide was carried out.
Three companies are being sanctioned “in an effort to limit the military’s access to arms and revenue,” the British government said in a statement on Wednesday.
A spokesman for Myanmar’s military junta did not answer repeated calls seeking comment.
Myanmar has been in political and economic chaos since the military overthrew the elected government in early 2021.
According to the militant group Political Prisoners Aid Association, there have been More than 15,000 people were arrested and 12,119 remain in custody. The military junta claims the figure is exaggerated.
A spokesman for the British embassy in Yangon said: “We are concerned about the arrest of a British woman in Myanmar. We are liaising with local authorities and providing consular assistance.” The spokesman did not disclose any details. The person’s name.
Bowman, 56, served as ambassador to Myanmar from 2002 to 2006 and has more than three years of experience in Myanmar.
Her husband Htein Lin, 55, one of Myanmar’s most prominent artists and a veteran activist, spent 6 1/2 years between 1998 and 2004 ,) was imprisoned for opposing the early military regime.
The couple has been remanded in custody pending trial and sent to Insein Prison, a notorious prison on the outskirts of the commercial capital Yangon that houses many political prisoners, a source said.
The source added that their youngest daughter remains “unharmed”.
Bauman is the latest foreigner to be detained in Myanmar. Sean Turner, an Australian economist and longtime adviser to ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and Japanese freelance filmmaker Toru Kubota were also detained. Their government demanded their release.
(Reporting by Reuters staff and Bobby McPherson in Bangkok; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Neil Fullick and Simon Cameron-Moore)