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Former British Ambassador to Myanmar arrested in Yangon: source

#British #Ambassador #Myanmar #arrested #Yangon #source

Myanmar authorities have arrested the UK’s former ambassador to the country, a diplomatic source said on Thursday.

Vicky Bowman, who served as an envoy from 2002 to 2006, was arrested at the Yangon trade hub on Wednesday, the source said, asking not to be identified.

Before becoming Ambassador, Bowman was also Second Secretary at the British Embassy from 1990 to 1993.

“We are concerned about the arrest of a British woman in Myanmar,” a British embassy spokesman told AFP.

“We are in contact with the local authorities and are providing consular assistance.”

Bowman’s husband and prominent artist Htein Lin was also arrested, the diplomatic source said. Local media said the couple were taken to Yangon’s Insein Prison.

A source with knowledge of the case said the couple had been arrested for allegedly violating immigration laws.

Each charge carries a maximum of five years in prison.

A junta spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

Bowman works as Director of the Myanmar Center for Responsible Business and is fluent in Burmese.

Htein Lin was arrested and imprisoned in 1998 for allegedly defying the then junta’s rule.

After his release in 2004, then-Ambassador Bowman became aware of a series of paintings he had made while in detention using contraband materials.

She persuaded him to take the pictures with her for his own safety, and the couple married in 2006.

– Tight Ties –

Relations between the UK and Myanmar have deteriorated since the 2021 coup.

Earlier this year, the junta criticized the recent downgrade of Britain’s mission in the country as “unacceptable”.

The British government has imposed sanctions on several military-related companies and individuals following the army’s takeover last year, which sparked mass riots and a bloody crackdown on dissidents.

On Thursday, the UK announced new sanctions against companies it said had helped raise funds for the military during its 2017 crackdown on the predominantly Muslim Rohingya minority.

Scores of foreign nationals became involved in the junta’s crackdown after they seized power.

Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota is currently being held in Insein prison after being arrested near an anti-government rally in Yangon last month.

He is the fifth foreign journalist to be arrested in Myanmar, after US citizens Nathan Maung and Danny Fenster, Robert Bociaga of Poland and Yuki Kitazumi of Japan – all of whom were later freed and deported.

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