Former ambassador Bowman’s husband Htein Lin, a prominent artist, was also arrested, the diplomatic source said – Copyright AFP/File ROMEO GACAD
Myanmar authorities have detained the United Kingdom’s former ambassador to the country, a diplomatic source said on Thursday.
Vicky Bowman, who served as envoy from 2002 to 2006 was arrested on Wednesday in the commercial hub Yangon, the source said, requesting anonymity.
Prior to serving as ambassador, Bowman was also the second secretary in the UK’s embassy from 1990 to 1993.
“We are concerned by the arrest of a British woman in Myanmar,” a UK embassy spokesperson told AFP.
“We are in contact with the local authorities and are providing consular assistance.”
Bowman’s husband and prominent artist Htein Lin was also arrested, the diplomatic source said. Local media said the pair had been taken to Yangon’s Insein prison.
A source with knowledge of the case said the pair had been arrested for allegedly violating immigration laws.
Each charge carries a maximum of five years in prison.
A junta spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.
Bowman works as director at the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business and is a fluent Burmese speaker.
Htein Lin was arrested in 1998 and imprisoned for allegedly opposing the rule of the then-junta.
After he was freed in 2004, he came to the attention of then-ambassador Bowman for a series of paintings he had made while imprisoned, using smuggled materials.
She persuaded him to let her take the paintings for his own security, and the pair married in 2006.
– Strained ties –
Ties between the UK and Myanmar have soured since the coup in 2021.
The junta earlier this year criticised Britain’s recent downgrading of its mission in the country as “unacceptable”.
The UK government has sanctioned several military-linked companies and individuals following the army’s power grab last year, which triggered mass uprisings and a bloody crackdown on dissent.
On Thursday, the UK announced new sanctions on companies it said had helped raise funds for the military during its 2017 crackdown on the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority.
Scores of foreign nationals have been caught up in the junta’s crackdown following its power grab.
Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota is currently being held in Insein prison, after he was detained last month near an anti-government rally in Yangon.
He is the fifth foreign journalist to be detained in Myanmar, after US citizens Nathan Maung and Danny Fenster, Robert Bociaga of Poland and Yuki Kitazumi of Japan — all of whom were later freed and deported.