Myanmar junta detains former UK ambassador Vicky Bowman

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Vicky Bowman was taken into custody along with her husband, Myanmar national Htein Lin, on Wednesday night, according to local media and a person in Yangon with knowledge of the situation.

Myanmar’s military government has not announced the arrests. However, local news outlets The Irrawaddy and Myanmar Now and the international news agency Reuters all reported that Bowman could face charges under the country’s immigration law.

The Irrawaddy reported that Bowman and Htein Lin are being held in Yangon’s Insein Prison.

A spokesman for the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said on Thursday that the British government is “concerned” by the arrest of a “British woman” in Myanmar.

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

Bowman was the UK’s top diplomat in Myanmar from 2002 to 2006 and has remained in the country ever since as the founder of the non-governmental organization Myanmar Center for Responsible Business.

On Wednesday, the UK announced a new set of sanctions against companies linked to Myanmar’s junta, which seized power in a bloody coup in February 2021.

On Thursday, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said the measures were being taken “to target the military’s access to weapons and revenue”.

Among the companies on the sanctions list are the Star Sapphire Group of Companies, International Gateways Group of Companies and Sky One Construction Company.

The British government stressed that the sanctions were taken exactly five years after a series of brutal attacks by Myanmar’s military against Rohingya communities in the country’s Rakhine state.

The Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim group in Myanmar’s predominantly Buddhist state, have suffered persecution for decades.

The British government also announced its intention to intervene in a lawsuit that will determine whether Myanmar has violated its obligations under the United Nations Genocide Convention in relation to the military actions against the Rohingya in 2016 and 2017.

“Our decision to intervene in the Gambia v. Myanmar case and a new round of sanctions sends a strong signal of our continued support for accountability for the atrocities in 2017 and also for the military junta’s access to funding and to limit the supply of weapons.” British Asia Secretary Amanda Milling said.

Five years after the campaign launched, Milling reiterated the UK’s condemnation of “the horrific ethnic cleansing campaign by Myanmar’s armed forces”.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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