Friday, October 7, 2022
HomeMiddle East NewsTURKEYMyanmar hands one-year jail term to Britain's former ambassador, spouse

Myanmar hands one-year jail term to Britain’s former ambassador, spouse

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Myanmar hands one-year jail term to Britain’s former ambassador, spouse

Foreigners, including US, British, Japanese and Australian citizens, have been held since the military seized power last year, arrests that human rights groups say are designed to discourage dissent.

Vicky Bowman and her Burmese husband Htein Lin were arrested for staying at an address different to the one she had registered under.
Vicky Bowman and her Burmese husband Htein Lin were arrested for staying at an address different to the one she had registered under.
(AP Archive)

A court in Myanmar has jailed a former
British ambassador and her spouse for one year for violating
immigration laws, sources and media say, prompting
concern from rights activists at secretive trials under military
rule.

The Myanmar Now news site reported the verdict on Friday by a closed-doors court inside Insein prison on the outskirts of Yangon, the commercial capital.

The sentences were confirmed to Reuters news agency by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group and a source with knowledge of the ruling, who declined to be identified because they were not authorised to speak to media.

Vicky Bowman, who runs a group promoting ethical business
practices in Myanmar, and her Burmese husband Htein Lin, an
artist and former political prisoner, were arrested on August 24
for staying at an address different to the one she had
registered under.

Various foreigners, including US, British, Japanese and
Australian citizens, have been held since the military seized
power last year, arrests that human rights groups say are
designed to discourage dissent and create a climate of fear.

A spokesperson for Britain’s foreign office said: “We will
continue to support Ms Bowman and her family until their case is
resolved.”


‘Notorious track record’

Myanmar’s military government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

It has been condemned globally for its behind-closed-doors
trials and tough sentences for relatively minor offences.

The junta insists the courts are independent and those
jailed are lawbreakers.

Bowman, 56, was ambassador to the former British colony from
2002 to 2006, while Htein Lin, 55, is a famous artist jailed
previously for opposing military rule.

News of their sentencing came on a day when deposed leader
Aung San Suu Kyi was given a further three years in prison after
being found guilty of election fraud.

Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the United Nations
rights office in Geneva, said the sentencing of Bowman and Htein
Lin added to concerns about miscarriages of justice in Myanmar.

“We are deeply shocked that the de facto authorities sought
to punish people committed to the development of the country,”
she said.

Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s deputy regional
director for campaigns, called the sentencing extremely
concerning.

“We have seen activists, artists, journalists, students,
business owners, and medical professionals arbitrarily detained
and jailed by the military on the slightest pretext,” she said.

“Myanmar’s military has a notorious track record of arresting and jailing people on politically motivated or trumped-up charges.”

READ MORE: Myanmar court sentences Suu Kyi to three more years for voting fraud


Source: Reuters


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