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Myanmar courtroom sentences ex-UK envoy, husband to yr in jail | Information

Yangon/Taipei – Former British ambassador to Myanmar, Vicky Bowman, and her husband, Htein Lin, have been sentenced to at least one yr in jail for immigration offences following a trial in Yangon, a diplomat with data of the matter mentioned.

Bowman and her husband Htein Lin, a famend Myanmar painter and former political prisoner, had been sentenced on Friday following their arrest in Yangon final week for alleged immigration offences.

A memo from Myanmar’s military rulers accused Bowman of violating the nation’s immigration act and foreigners’ registration guidelines for failing to tell the authorities final yr when the couple moved briefly from their registered handle in Yangon to Kalaw in Shan State.

Htein Lin has been charged with abetting the “crime”.

Native information website Myanmar Now reported that the couple appeared at a courtroom contained in the infamous Insein jail on Thursday for his or her listening to, and had been sentenced on Friday.

The arrest and now imprisonment of Bowman, probably the most distinguished advocate of accountable funding in Myanmar and who has years of expertise residing within the nation, and Htein Lin, have despatched shockwaves throughout the enterprise and diplomatic communities.

Hypothesis over the rationale for his or her arrest fluctuate, with some suggesting Bowman’s unbiased advocacy work has caught the eyes of the navy regime.

Some diplomats and analysts, nonetheless, see the couple’s imprisonment as akin to taking hostages that may be traded in future talks.

“That is hostage ‘diplomacy’”, former EU ambassador to Myanmar Kristian Schmidt wrote on social media following information of the couple’s arrest.

Al Jazeera’s Tony Cheng, reporting from Bangkok, mentioned the priority now’s that Bowman and her husband shall be used as a type of leverage by Myanmar’s navy rulers.

“The priority is for many individuals who know her, her pals and family members inside Yangon and outdoors, that she is going to turn into a pawn for the navy to make use of as they’ve used different foreigners they’ve detained because the navy coup,” Cheng mentioned.

“Presumably partially as a result of the British authorities put extra sanctions in place in opposition to companies associated to Myanmar’s navy junta final week, and that will turn into a part of the equation in getting her liberty. However in the meanwhile, so far as we perceive, she shall be retained at Insein jail for an additional yr.”

Associates additionally fear that Htein Lin, 55, is at greater threat of struggling in jail beneath the navy, which is thought to torture prisoners. Htein Lin was a pupil protester throughout the 1988 rebellion in opposition to the then-military authorities, and he spent greater than six years in jail between 1998 and 2004.

The pair’s jailing additionally doubtlessly represents an enormous take a look at for the UK authorities.

Britain was criticised domestically for not performing swiftly within the case of Iran’s jailing of British-Iranian nationwide Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who spent six years in jail in Iran earlier than being launched earlier this yr.

“This goes far past a non-public consular case,” a European diplomat previously primarily based in Yangon instructed Al Jazeera.

Bowman is likely one of the foremost interfaces between Myanmar and international buyers, advocating accountable enterprise and enjoying a pivotal function in steering financial improvement, the diplomat mentioned.

“All eyes at the moment are on the UK authorities to do all they’ll to get her and Htein Lin freed as quickly as potential,” he added.

“It actually suggests the opportunity of ‘hostage diplomacy’. It additionally highlights the junta’s excessive paranoia and its utter cluelessness – or indifference – to the impression its actions have on the economic system,” mentioned Scot Marciel, a former US ambassador to Burma. “They appear to see enemies all over the place.”

Previously the UK ambassador to Myanmar from 2002 to 2006, Bowman, 56, returned to Yangon and has spent practically a decade reforming the personal sector and associated authorities rules in a means that respects human rights and worldwide requirements throughout the nation’s decade of financial opening within the 2010s. She speaks fluent Burmese.

One Asian diplomat mentioned in Yangon that there are a number of potential causes for the arrests, and timing, such because the UK’s refusal to just accept the navy’s new ambassadorial appointee in London, the most recent sanctions on the regime, and London’s determination to help the Rohingya’s crimes in opposition to humanity case on the International Criminal Court.

On August 25, the fifth anniversary of the navy’s assault on the Rohingya neighborhood in Myanmar, the UK placed sanctions on three entities linked to the navy management.

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