Myanmar Frees Australian Economist, Former UK Ambassador in Mass Prison Release


Alongside Australian economist Sean Turnell, three other foreign nationals namely Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota and ex-British diplomat Vicky Bowman, and American botanist Kyaw Htay Oo, have been released and deported from the country.

On the occasion of Myanmar’s National Victory Day, the military released these four individuals as part of an amnesty covering 6,000 prisoners.

An associate professor in economics at Sydney’s Macquarie University, 58-year-old Turnell was an adviser to the former State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi and was arrested in September 2021 after the military staged a coup and seized power from the democratically-elected government. He was charged with violating the country’s official secrets law and immigration law and sentenced to a three-year time in prison.

Japanese video journalist, 26-year-old Toru Kobuta was detained in July this year while he was filming a flash protest in Yangon. He was charged with multiple crimes, including incitement for taking part in the protest, and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Former British Ambassador to Myanmar, Vicky Bowman was arrested alongside her husband reknowned Burmese artist Ko Htein Lin, at their home in August. She was sentenced to one year in prison on immigration violation charges.

The Myanmar military seized power in a coup in February 2021, ousting former leader Aung San Suu Kyi and plunging the country into turmoil.

Leaders of ASEAN countries have warned Myanmar that it needs to proceed with an actionable peace plan or risk removal from the bloc’s meetings as an aftermath of the social and political chaos engulfing the nation.