Myanmar arrests former UK ambassador
Myanmar has detained the UK's former ambassador to the country, where a military junta seized power last year, according to reports on Thursday.
Sources said that both Vicky Bowman, who currently runs the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB), and her artist husband Htein Lin — a former political prisoner — were both detained.
What do we know so far?
One source said officials had charged Bowman and her husband with immigration offences.
The pair were said to have been remanded in custody and were being sent to the notorious Insein prison.
The jail, where many political prisoners are held, is on the outskirts of Myanmar's commercial capital of Yangon.
Who are the couple?
The 56-year-old Bowman was the British ambassador to Myanmar from 2002-2006 and has more than three decades' experience in Myanmar.
She has most recently worked as director at the Myanmar Center for Responsible Business and is a fluent speaker of Burmese.
Her husband Htein Lin is among the country's most famous artists and a veteran activist who spent more than six years in prison for opposing an earlier junta.
He came to Bowman's attention for a series of paintings he had made while imprisoned, using smuggled materials, while she was ambassador.
She urged him to let her take the paintings for his own security. The couple married in 2006.
What is the UK's response?
A spokesperson for the British embassy in Yangon said: "We are 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 did not name the individual.
Bowman's arrest came as Britain announced that it is imposing fresh sanctions on military-linked businesses in Myanmar. Meanwhile, the UK also said it was also joining the case against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice.
What is the situation in Myanmar?
The junta seized power on February 1 last year, ousting the civilian government and placing de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi under arrest.
The army has justified its power grab — which ended a decade of tentative steps toward democracy — by alleging massive fraud during the 2020 election. The vote saw Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy defeat a military-backed party.
Myanmar has faced turmoil ever since, with fighting across large parts of the country and the economy in freefall.