Vicky Bowman: UK ex-ambassador to Myanmar arrested

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Vicky BowmanImage source, Institute for Human Rights and Business
Image caption,
Vicky Bowman runs a centre whose aim is to ensure businesses respect human rights

Myanmar's military authorities have arrested the UK's former ambassador to Myanmar, Vicky Bowman, and her husband.

She has been accused of breaking visa rules, and her husband with helping her - charges that could result in up to five years in jail.

Ms Bowman served as ambassador in Myanmar from 2002-2006. She is married to Htein Lin, a Burmese artist and former political prisoner.

She runs the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business, based in Yangon.

The pair have been sent to Insein prison in the city, with a trial scheduled for 6 September.

A statement from the military said Ms Bowman had broken the law by staying at an address in a town other than Yangon - where she was registered - and failing to notify the authorities. Her husband had been arrested because he had facilitated the move.

The UK embassy say they are providing consular assistance to her.

The arrest came as the UK announced fresh sanctions against the military authorities in Myanmar - coinciding with the fifth anniversary of its crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in the country.

During the first few months of the onslaught, more than 6,000 people died, and hundreds of thousands were displaced.

"They are being sanctioned in an effort to limit the military's access to arms and revenue," a statement said.

UK Minister for Asia Amanda Milling also confirmed that the government would take part in the legal case of The Gambia v Myanmar before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Judges at the UN court will assess whether Myanmar violated its obligations under the Genocide Convention with its treatment of the Rohingya.

The MCRB describes itself as "an initiative to encourage responsible business activities throughout Myanmar". It co-operates with the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) - whose aim is "to make respect for human rights part of everyday business".

Myanmar's military regime has been accused of widespread violations of human rights.

Early this month, generals extended their emergency rule until 2023 as the country remains riven by internal fighting.

The junta seized power last year after overthrowing Aung Sung Suu Kyi's democratically-elected government.

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