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Archive for Myanmar

Newsline: U.S. decides not to send ambassador to Myanmar

The U.S. will downgrade its diplomatic relations with Myanmar, with the incumbent American ambassador, Thomas Vajda, returning home later this month and Washington deciding not to send a successor, Nikkei Asia has learned. “Deputy chief of mission Deborah Lynn will assume duties as charge d’affaires at [the] U.S. Embassy Rangoon upon Ambassador Vajda’s departure,” a State Department spokesperson responded to Nikkei by email. (https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Myanmar-Crisis/U.S.-to-downgrade-Myanmar-ties-decides-not-to-send-ambassador) Washington is making it clear that it does not recognize Myanmar’s military regime.

Newsline: Former UK ambassador among prisoners freed in Myanmar

Myanmar’s military has freed a number of opposition figures, as well as a former UK ambassador, a Japanese filmmaker and an Australian adviser to the country’s ousted civilian leader. Ex-diplomat Vicky Bowman and journalist Toru Kubota were jailed earlier this year, while economist Sean Turnell was detained soon after the 2021 coup. All three have flown out of the country after being deported. (https://news.yahoo.com/vicky-bowman-former-uk-ambassador-032055614.html) Ms Bowman served as the UK’s envoy to Myanmar between 2002 and 2006 and was running the Yangon-based Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB) at the time of her arrest. A fluent Burmese speaker, she is a well-known member of Myanmar’s small international community. Her husband Htein Lin, a former political prisoner, was also on the list of those to be freed. The couple were detained when they returned to the city from a home they have in Shan State. Military authorities charged them both with failing to register her as living at a different address. The military said some 6,000 pardons were to mark Myanmar National Day.

Newsline: Former UK ambassador to Myanmar sentenced to one year in prison

Former British envoy to Myanmar was sentenced to one year in prison on Friday for immigration offense. (https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/nation-world/story/2022-09-02/diplomat-former-british-envoy-to-myanmar-sentenced-to-1-year-in-prison-for-immigration-offense) Last week, the authorities in Myanmar have detained Britain’s former ambassador to the Southeast Asian nation. Vicky Bowman, who run the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB), and her husband, Htein Lin, a Burmese artist and former political prisoner, were detained last Wednesday. A statement from the junta said the couple were being investigated under the Immigration Act for staying at a different address than Bowman’s official registration specified, after moving to a different town. “It is found that Vicky Bowman violated the immigration act 13/1,” said the statement circulated to journalists. The law carries a sentence of six months to five years of prison time. The junta did not specify whether the couple was in custody, but a source said they were in detention at Insein Prison.

Newsline: Myanmar accused of “hostage diplomacy” following arrest of ex-U.K. ambassador

The Myanmar military’s recent arrest of a former British ambassador is an example of “hostage diplomacy,” activists and opposition politicians say. The detention of the ex-diplomat came as Britain moved to further isolate the Southeast Asian regime. Activists say the detention of Bowman, who is being charged for staying at a different address than the residence that she officially registered, reflects the growing impunity of the military. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/08/26/myanmar-arrest-vicky-bowman-hostage-diplomacy/) The junta has brutally crushed opposition over the past year and defied international appeals last month in executing four pro-democracy leaders. Many also see the arrest as an attempt to pressure foreign governments against undermining the regime, including with stronger sanctions. Vicky Bowman, who served as British ambassador to Myanmar from 2002 to 2006, was arrested Wednesday evening at her Yangon apartment along with her husband, Htein Lin, a renowned Burmese artist. They join the 15,000-plus people arrested by the military junta since it seized power in a coup in February 2021, said the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a nonprofit that tracks people persecuted by the regime. The figures include at least three other foreigners.

Newsline: Britain’s former ambassador to Myanmar detained in Yangon

Authorities in Myanmar have detained Britain’s former ambassador to the Southeast Asian nation, where a military junta seized power last year, three people with knowledge of the situation said on Thursday. Vicky Bowman, who currently runs the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB), and her husband, Htein Lin, a Burmese artist and former political prisoner, were detained on Wednesday, the sources said, asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue. A source with knowledge of the situation said Bowman and her husband had been charged with immigration offences. (https://uk.investing.com/news/world-news/britains-former-myanmar-envoy-detained-in-yangon–sources-2731993 The arrest comes on the heels of Britain announcing that it is imposing fresh sanctions to target military-linked businesses in Myanmar and joining the case against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice. Three companies are being penalised with sanctions “in an effort to limit the military’s access to arms and revenue”, the British government said in a statement on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the Myanmar junta did not answer repeated calls seeking comment.

Newsline: Top Southeast Asian diplomats discuss Violence in Myanmar

Top Southeast Asian diplomats meeting in Cambodia’s capital intensified efforts Wednesday to stop the escalating violence in Myanmar, and to address other pressing — and often divisive — regional issues. It is the first in-person meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has weakened economies and complicated diplomacy, and comes at a time of increased tensions between the United States and China, as well as global increases in food and energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “ASEAN has to deal with challenges of different types and levels but never before, never like this year, have we been confronted at the same time with so many perils for the region and the world at large,” Cambodia’s Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn told the delegates ahead of the meetings. (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-08-03/stopping-myanmar-violence-tops-meeting-of-asian-diplomats) Cambodia currently holds the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN, which also includes the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei in addition to Myanmar.

Newsline: Myanmar embassy negotiates with Chinese authorities for return of 600 citizens

Myanmar Embassy in Beijing is now in negotiations with Chinese authorities to allow nearly 600 Myanmar citizens in China to return home, according to the embassy. A total of 910 Myanmar citizens working in China had contacted the embassy to assist them with returning home. The embassy contacted Foreign Ministry of China, Department of Consular Affairs, respective regional authorities and police stations to inform them about the matter. (https://elevenmyanmar.com/news/myanmar-embassy-negotiates-with-chinese-authorities-for-return-of-600-citizens) Moreover, 597 Myanmar citizens sent their documents including National Registration Numbers to the embassy. The embassy is now carrying out procedures for their return.

Newsline: Rights group denounces Japan envoy for ‘disturbing’ comments on Myanmar Rohingya

Tokyo-based human rights activists on Wednesday decried recent remarks by Japan’s ambassador to Yangon, who told local media he did not think the Myanmar military committed genocide on the Rohingya Muslim minority in the country. Zaw Min Htut, vice president of an advocacy group, Burmese Rohingya Association in Japan, said the ambassador’s remarks were “disturbing”. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-myanmar/rights-group-denounces-japan-envoy-for-disturbing-comments-on-myanmar-rohingya-idUSKBN1ZE0V7) More than 730,000 Rohingya fled the Southeast Asian nation to Bangladesh in 2017 after a military-led crackdown. The United Nations has said the campaign was executed with “genocidal intent” and included mass killings and rape. The military offensive has sparked a series of ongoing legal cases filed in recent months at courts across the globe, including the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), both based in the Hague.

Newsline: Embassy Official Denied China Offered Money to Rohingya in Bangladesh

China has not offered Rohingya refugees money to repatriate to Myanmar, a Chinese Embassy attaché in Dhaka told BenarNews, after the news outlet reported that a delegation of officials from Beijing had promised refugee families up to U.S. $6,000 each if they returned to Rakhine state. The embassy official was asked to comment on a video posted online by a Rohingya NGO that showed Chinese delegates meeting with refugees in southeastern Bangladesh, and offering families money to return to their homeland. Bangladeshi officials and Rohingya leaders confirmed the meeting and the offer to BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service, on Tuesday. (https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/china-rohingya-03072019144056.html) “I didn’t see the video so I cannot say whether there’s Chinese official[s],” political attaché Vera Hu said in an email response to BenarNews. However, she clarified, “China never offers money to Rohingya people for them to go back.”

Newsline: Chinese Envoy Said to Offer Rohingya Money to Return to Myanmar

A Chinese government delegation met Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh, promising each refugee family up to U.S. $6,000 if they returned to Rakhine state in Myanmar, a Bangladeshi official and refugee leaders said on Mar.5. Sun Gouxiang, China’s special envoy for Asian Affairs, met with 15 men and 14 women at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar on March 3, according to Syed Ullah, secretary-general of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPH), an NGO. “They asked us whether we would go back if they gave us five thousand to six thousand dollars,” Ullah told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service. “We rejected their proposal and asserted that we will in no way return if we are not given citizenship with Rohingya identity and our other demands are not met,” he said. (https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/china-rohingya-03052019163757.html)A Bangladeshi official who attended the meeting confirmed to BenarNews, on condition of anonymity, that the Chinese delegation had offered up to U.S. $6,000 to help the refugees rebuild their homes in Rakhine state. The Chinese embassy in Dhaka did not respond to a BenarNews email seeking comment. The United Nations estimates that some 730,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh at the height of a brutal crackdown launched by the Myanmar military in response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents on security posts in August 2017.