Former British Ambassador to Myanmar transferred from prison to police custody

Former British Ambassador to Myanmar Vicky Bowman and her husband, artist Htein Lin, have been released from Yangon’s notorious Insein Prison and are being held in separate police stations.

Bowman was transferred to Sanchaung police station in the north central part of Yangon and her husband to Kyimyindaing police station in the west of the city, a family friend, who wished to be nameless for safety reasons, told RFA.

Myanmar’s military authorities are preparing to file a lawsuit against Bowman under the Immigration Act, the source said.

“It is already working to file the case and preparing to prosecute,” the family friend said. “They are being held in the police stations. They were remanded for two weeks yesterday and I learned that the court trial will be in the first week of September. The family is asking for permission to send what they need to the police stations where they are being held.”

The British embassy in Yangon is providing consular assistance. A U.K. foreign office spokesperson told RFA on Thursday: "We are supporting a British woman in Myanmar and are in contact with the local authorities.”

Bowman and her husband were arrested at their home in Yangon at 10 p.m. on Wednesday and were sent to Insein Prison at noon the following day.

The former ambassador is being charged for failing to report that she was living at a different location than her authorized address, under Section 5 (1) of the Foreigner Registration Act of 1948.

She is also accused of breaking Section 13 (1) of the Myanmar Immigration (Recent Provisions) Act of 1947, which deals with violations of visa regulations.

Htein Lin is being prosecuted under Section 13 (5) of the 1947 Myanmar Immigration (Recent Provisions) Act for failing to report a foreigner staying at his home.

A statement by the junta said that Bowman had obtained a permit to stay in Yangon, where she runs the nonprofit organization Myanmar Center for Responsible Business. It said she moved to her husband’s home in Shan state’s Kalaw township between May 4, 2021, and Aug. 9, 2022, without informing authorities of her change of address.

The couple face up to five years in prison.

More than 15,200 people have been arrested since the Feb. 1, 2021 coup, according to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).

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