SINGAPORE—A court in junta-controlled Myanmar sentenced a former British ambassador and her husband to one year in prison each for violating immigration law, as the military regime continues to defy international pressure since seizing power in a coup last year.
a citizen of the U.K. who lives in the Southeast Asian country, was convicted of residing at an address—of a property owned by her husband—that was different from the one registered on her official documents, according to the junta. Her husband,
a Myanmar national, was convicted of abetting her. The couple was arrested on Aug. 24.
Thousands of people have been detained since last year’s Feb. 1 coup that ended the country’s decadelong transition to democracy. In July, four men—including a former lawmaker and a prominent pro-democracy activist—were executed after being convicted on charges related to terrorism, sparking widespread international condemnation. Western governments including the U.S. and the U.K. have imposed sanctions on the junta and army-linked businesses since the coup, but the military has shown no sign of changing course.
The most high-profile prisoner is the country’s ousted civilian leader,
Aung San Suu Kyi,
who was detained the day of the coup and later charged with at least 18 offenses. Ms. Suu Kyi, 77, has over months of closed hearings been convicted on several of those charges including corruption, inciting unrest and illegally importing walkie-talkies. On Friday she was found guilty of election fraud, adding another three years to her sentence and bringing it to a total of 20 years, according to a person familiar with her case.
One of her advisers, Australian economist
has been detained for more than a year as he faces trial for violating a colonial-era official secrets act.
Ms. Bowman served as the U.K.’s ambassador to Myanmar from 2002 to 2006. Since 2013, she has been the director of the Myanmar Center for Responsible Business, a nonprofit initiative that advises investors on human-rights issues in the country. She is a fluent Burmese speaker.
Her husband, Mr. Htein, is an artist who became known internationally for works he produced secretly while he was a political prisoner under a former military regime.
Vicky Bowman’s husband, Htein Lin—who was also convicted in the case—in Yangon, Myanmar, in 2015.
A spokesperson for the U.K.’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office said the U.K. will continue to support Ms. Bowman and her family until their case is resolved.
More than 15,000 people have been detained since the coup and over 12,000 of them remain imprisoned, according to the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. The group says more than 2,200 people have been killed—some tortured in detention and others gunned down by authorities who sought to crush pro-democracy protests in the months after the coup.
Write to Feliz Solomon at email@example.com
Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.