The military in Myanmar said on Thursday that it will free 6000 detainees, among them a former British ambassador, a journalist from Japan, and an Australian who served as an adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi’s deposed administration. They revised a previous estimate of around 700 detainees to say that 5,774 people will be freed overall, including 600 women prisoners. The junta’s communications team did not specify how many of those pardoned had been detained during the military’s crackdown on opposition in its announcement of the amnesty.
Vicky Bowman, a former British diplomat, Sean Turnell, an economist from Australia, and Toru Kubota, a journalist from Japan, ‘will be freed to honour National Day,’ a senior official told AFP. Bowman, who was ambassador from 2002 to 2006, was taken into custody in August along with her husband for failing to disclose that she was residing at a different home than that which was given on her foreigner registration card.
They were eventually given a year in prison. The official said that her well-known artist spouse Htein Lin will also be released. When Sean Turnell was arrested soon after the coup in February of last year, he was serving as an advisor to Suu Kyi, the head of Myanmar’s democratic government. Along with two other nationals of Myanmar, Kubota, 26, was arrested in July near a protest in Yangon and sentenced to ten years in prison. According to a source at the Japanese embassy in Myanmar, they had ‘been advised that Mr. Kubota will be released today’ by junta officials.
He and Suu Kyi were sentenced to three years in prison each in September after being found guilty of violating the official secrets act by a secret junta court. Along with two other nationals of Myanmar, Kubota, 26, was arrested in July near a protest in Yangon and sentenced to ten years in prison. Before the anticipated news, families gathered in front of the Insein jail in Yangon, according to an AFP correspondent.