Former UK Ambassador to Myanmar and Husband Given One-Year Sentences

By The Irrawaddy 2 September 2022

Myanmar’s military regime has handed one-year prison sentences to Britain’s former ambassador to Myanmar, Vicky Bowman, and her husband, Ko Htein Lin, a renowned artist and former political prisoner, for breaching the Immigration Act.

A court in Yangon’s Insein Prison held a summary hearing for the couple on Monday and made the verdict on Friday, according to prison sources.

They were arrested on August 24 at their Yangon home and taken to Insein but later transferred to police custody.

The regime charged Bowmen for “staying in a family home in Kalaw Township, Shan State, rather than living at the Yangon address where she has originally registered with the authorities” while her husband failed to report his wife’s stay in Shan State.

The act carries up to five years in prison.

Their court hearing was originally set for September 6 and it is unclear why it was moved forward.

Her arrest came as Britain imposed further sanctions on three junta-linked companies, including Sky One Construction Company, of which Aung Pyae Sone, the son of regime leader Min Aung Hlaing, is a director.

The junta expelled the head of the UK Embassy in July after he declined to present his credentials to the regime, despite repeated requests.

Bowman served as ambassador from 2002 to 2006 and was the embassy’s second secretary from 1990 to 1993.

Since 2013, she has been the director of the Myanmar Center for Responsible Business, an initiative to encourage responsible business practices in the country. She is a fluent Burmese speaker.

Ko Htein Lin was jailed by the previous military dictatorship between 1998 and 2004.

In 2015 he showcased his sculptures in the “Show of Hands” exhibition to highlight the plight of political prisoners.

Bowman is among three foreigners detained by the regime, along with Australian economist Sean Turnell, a former economic policy adviser to jailed State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Japanese videographer Toru Kubota.

Turnell was arrested after the coup last year and faces charges of possessing state secrets. Kubota has been in jail since July, accused of incitement and violating visa and other immigration rules for his alleged connections with anti-regime protesters, according to the junta’s Information Ministry.

PHOTO CAPTION: Vicky Bowman and Ko Htein Lin