Myanmar sentences ex-British envoy to 1-year prison term

Sep 1, 2022, 2:43 PM | Updated: Sep 2, 2022, 5:08 am
In this image made from video by Radio Free Asia, former British Ambassador Vicky Bowman talks to m...

In this image made from video by Radio Free Asia, former British Ambassador Vicky Bowman talks to media in Yangon, Myanmar, on Sept. 5, 2014. A court in Myanmar has sentenced the former British ambassador to the Southeast Asian nation to a year in prison for failing to register her residence, a diplomat who has been following her case said Friday, Sept. 2, 2022. (Radio Free Asia via AP)

(Radio Free Asia via AP)

BANGKOK (AP) — A court in military-ruled Myanmar has sentenced a former British ambassador to the Southeast Asian nation to a year in prison for failing to register her residence, a government spokesperson said Friday.

Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun confirmed earlier unofficial reports that former envoy Bowman and her husband, a Myanmar national, were each given one-year prison terms on Friday by the court in Insein Prison in Yangon, the country’s biggest city.

Since 2013, Bowman has been heading the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business, a business ethics advisory group that says its goals include the promotion of human rights through responsible business in Myanmar.

The charge against Bowman has been widely seen as a pretext for cracking down on her for views the government may have considered critical, although her business was operated as a consultancy and did not play a notably vocal role in public affairs.

Responding to reports of the sentencing, Britain’s Foreign Office in London said, “We will continue to support Ms Bowman and her family until their case is resolved.”

The couple were arrested on Aug. 24, the military government announced last week. It said Bowman, who served as the British envoy in 2002-2006, was detained for failing to inform the authorities last year when she and her husband moved from their registered address in Yangon to Kalaw township in Shan state in east-central Myanmar. They were arrested during a trip back to Yangon.

It said she and her husband, Htein Lin, were charged under the Immigration Act and the Foreigners Registration Rules. Bowman, who has applied for a visa to do business in Myanmar, was charged with breaching visa rules because she did not comply with regulations governing foreigners, the statement said.

Bowman was liable to six months to five years’ imprisonment because of her failure to change the address on her official residence permit registration card, it said, It was not immediately clear which of the two charges the couple were sentenced under.

Failure to properly register her address automatically put her in violation of the Immigration Act, which has catch-all provisions saying that foreigners are guilty of violating the terms of their visas if they are found to have broken other laws.

High-profile convictions of foreigners are usually followed by their expulsion from Myanmar before they serve their complete sentences, though their detention period can sometimes last for months.

Bowman’s first stint as a diplomat in Myanmar was in 1990-93 as the British embassy’s second secretary.

The government’s statement last week said Bowman’s husband was charged with abetting the failure to register the proper address.

Htein Lin is an artist and veteran political activist who was a student when he took part in Myanmar’s failed 1988 uprising against military rule. He was also a political prisoner under a past government.

Myanmar has been under military rule since February 2021, when its army ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The takeover triggered widespread peaceful protests which were violently suppressed and soon erupted into armed resistance. The country has slipped into what some U.N. experts characterize as a civil war.

According to detailed lists by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), an advocacy group, about 2,262 civilians have died in the military government’s crackdown on opponents and more than 15,320 people have been arrested.

Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the U.N. human rights office in Geneva, said her agency is “deeply shocked that the de facto authorities have sought to punish people who have been committed to the development of the country.”

“Overall, we have raised concerns about the miscarriages of justice for thousands of people in Myanmar. And this trial and these kinds of sentences further add to these concerns that we’ve had.,” she said at a news briefing.

The human rights group Amnesty International, reacting to reports of the sentencing, said that “Since the coup, we have seen activists, artists, journalists, students, business owners, and medical professionals arbitrarily detained and jailed by the military on the slightest pretext.”

“The latest reports on the conviction of the former UK ambassador and her Burmese artist husband are extremely concerning. Myanmar’s military has a notorious track record of arresting and jailing people on politically motivated or trumped-up charges,” it said in a statement.

___

Associated Press writers Jamey Keaten in Geneva and Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Ethiopia turns over alleged people smuggler to Netherlands

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Ethiopia has turned over to Dutch judicial authorities a 38-year-old Eritrean man suspected of playing a leading role in a major international criminal network that smuggled Eritreans to the Netherlands. “The journey involved brutal violence — migrants were abused and extorted in camps,” prosecutors said in a statement Wednesday after […]
1 day ago
This photo provided by Edmunds shows the 2022 Lucid Air, a luxury electric sedan with an EPA-estima...
Associated Press

Edmunds compares: 2022 Lucid Air vs. Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S has enjoyed a nearly 10-year head start on the premium electric sedan competition, but the gap is beginning to close. There’s a newcomer giving the Model S a run for its money, and it comes from a fellow startup. The 2022 Lucid Air is an all-electric luxury sedan that can compete […]
1 day ago
FILE - Rail workers are seen next to derailed cars at the site of a train accident in Santiago de C...
Associated Press

Trial begins over 2013 train crash that killed 80 in Spain

MADRID (AP) — A trial opened Wednesday over a 2013 train accident in Spain that killed 80 passengers and injured 145. Prosecutors are seeking four-year prison sentences for the train driver and for a former security director at rail infrastructure company ADIF. On July 24, 2013, a long-distance train derailed and crashed against a concrete […]
1 day ago
Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen gives a press conference in front of Marienborg in Copen...
Associated Press

Danish prime minister calls general election for Nov. 1

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Wednesday called a general election for Tuesday Nov. 1, seven months ahead of the end of her term in office. Frederiksen, who has headed the Social Democratic minority government since June 2019, has seen her popularity dwindle in recent weeks due to her role in […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

How company off-sites are changing business travel

Business travel used to mean sending employees from their home office to somewhere else — to meet with clients or coworkers at other offices. But for many remote-first companies, it now means the opposite: Bringing employees together from their far-flung homes to work and meet in person. These so-called “off-sites” — a holdover term from […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Serbian police detain migrant smugglers, find weapons, money

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbian special police on Wednesday raided a makeshift camp near the border with Hungary where they found 200 migrants, detained people smugglers and confiscated weapons and money. The police operation in Srpski Krstur, by the Tisa river that runs along the border with Hungary, comes just two days after Serbia, Hungary […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Myanmar sentences ex-British envoy to 1-year prison term