Authorities in Myanmar have detained, Vicky Bowman Britain’s former ambassador
to the country in Yangon.
NSL LEARNT: Ms Bowman and her husband were arrested at their home in the city
on Wednesday and are being held on an immigration charge.
The UK embassy says they are providing consular assistance to Ms Bowman, who runs
the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB), based in the city.
She served as UK ambassador to the south-east Asian state from 2002-2006.
Ms Bowman is married to Htein Lin, a Burmese artist and former political prisoner.
At the time of her arrest, Bowman was working as a director at the Myanmar Centre
for Responsible Business (MCRB). She previously served as the UK ambassador to
Burma from 2002-06. She also held roles in Brussels under the former European
commissioner Chris Patten and as director of global and economic issues at the UK
When appointed at the MCRB Bowman was described as one of the “pre-eminent
experts on Myanmar”. She said the role brought together her “two professional and
personal passions”: Myanmar and responsible business.
Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup on 1 February last year, leading to mass
protests in Yangon and across the country.
The arrest of Bowman comes after the UK released a statement on the fifth
anniversary of the Rohingya crisis and announced further sanctions targeting
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an organisation
tracking human rights violations in Burma, more than 15,000 people have been
arrested by 24 August and 12,000 remain in detention.
A graduate of natural sciences (pathology) from University of Cambridge and
Burmese studies at SOAS University of London, and fluent in the language, Bowman
began her diplomatic career in 1990 working as the second secretary at the embassy in
the south-east Asian country from 1990-93.
Bowman’s husband, Htein Lin, was arrested and imprisoned by the military
government in 1998. In prison he secretly continued to paint, completing more than
1,000 works while carrying out his sentence.
“It took me a year to start painting properly in prison. I had to befriend a prison
guard, who would bring me colour but no brushes. I had to find other things to paint
with,” Lin said in 2008.
“In my cell I put on an exhibition for the 30 other political prisoners. I had to pay the
guard to let me do it and he gave me two hours,” he said.
The pair have a 14-year-old daughter.
A UK Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are concerned by the arrest of a British
woman in Myanmar. We are in contact with the local authorities and are providing