Mass amnesty in Myanmar: Foreigners should be released
Courts run by the country’s military junta sentenced several prominent foreigners to prison terms. Now there should be an amnesty.
According to reports, several prominent foreigners are to be released as part of a mass amnesty in the crisis-ridden country of Myanmar.
They had been sentenced to long prison terms by courts controlled by the military junta. Australian economics professor Sean Turnell, former British ambassador to the country Vicky Bowman, her husband Htein Lin and Japanese journalist Toru Kubota would be released from prison on Thursday, The Irrawaddy newspaper reported. There was initially no confirmation of the information.
Turnell is the former adviser to the ousted Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi. He was arrested shortly after the February 2021 military coup and was on trial for allegedly violating an official secrets law. At the end of September he was sentenced to three years in prison – to the horror of human rights activists around the world. The Australian government has repeatedly called for Turnell’s release. Professor colleagues have also been committed to him for many months.
Vicky Bowman was sentenced to a year in prison on alleged immigration violations in early September. Her Myanmar husband, the artist Htein Lin, was accused of aiding and also sentenced to one year in prison.
In October, Japanese journalist Toru Kubota was sentenced to a total of 10 years in prison for sedition and violations of communications and immigration laws. The documentary filmmaker was arrested after filming a protest in the largest city of Yangon (formerly Rangoon).
Since the coup and the removal of de facto Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi from power, the junta has ruled with an iron fist. The military cracks down on any resistance. Foreigners are also targeted by the generals. Suu Kyi is being held in solitary confinement in a prison and has to face a series of new allegations in court. Human rights activists speak of show trials.