Myanmar’s military junta arrests former UK ambassador
Bangkok, Aug 25 (EFE).- Myanmar’s military junta, which has been in power since a coup in February 2021, has arrested a former British ambassador to the country, Vicky Bowman, for an alleged crime linked to the immigration law.
Bowman, who was the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Myanmar between 2002 and 2006 and is currently the director of the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business, was arrested from her residence in Yangon on Wednesday night along with her husband, local artist Htein Lin.
Local media cited sources close to the couple as saying that the authorities had acted over alleged irregularities in the status of the visa granted to the former British official, related to violation of immigration law.
The UK Foreign Office issued a statement acknowledging the arrest of “a British woman in Myanmar.”
“We are in contact with the local authorities and are providing consular assistance,” it said.
The couple’s arrest comes a few days after the United Nations special envoy for Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer, met with the military junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and called for an end to state violence and the release of political prisoners.
However, in recent weeks, the military has intensified its offensive against the regime’s detractors, including journalists and foreigners.
Last month, the junta executed at least four dissidents, including Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former lawmaker of the National League for Democracy, and activist Ko Jimmy.
The authorities also arrested Japanese documentary maker Toru Kubota while he was filming anti-junta protests in Yangon, while Australian economist Sean Turnell, the economic advisor to former state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, remains in prison following his arrest shortly after the coup.
The coup on Feb. 1, 2021 plunged Myanmar into a political, economic and social crisis, with repeated clashes between the junta forces and armed rebels and an increase in state repression.
At least 2,138 people have died as a result of violent repression by security forces, while over 15,000 people have been arbitrarily arrested, according to data collected by the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.