Japanese journalist Yuki Kitazumi (C); Teppei Kasai (R), program officer of Human Rights Watch Asia Division and Myint Swe (L), President of Federation of Workers’ Union of Burmese Citizens in Japan, show portraits of Japanese journalist Toru Kubota on October 26. Kubota is expected to be released on Wednesday. Photo by Kimimasa Mayama/EPA-EFE
Nov. 17 (UPI) — Myanmar’s military-controlled government said on Thursday it will release and deport an Australian economist, former British ambassador and a Japanese filmmaker among others jailed over the course of its nearly two-year coup.
The military said the releases are being made to mark Myanmar’s National Day. Myanmar has been under international scrutiny and sanctions since the military junta seized power on Feb. 1, 2021, and jailed leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Australia’s Sean Turnell had been a key economic adviser to Suu Kyi when he was jailed days after the coup.
“Once he touches down on Australian soil, we can be really relieved,” Turnell’s family friend and colleague Tim Harcourt said. “I understand he’s flying to Bangkok. I think there’s a possibility he might meet Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who happens to be in Bangkok at the moment, maybe. And then back to Sydney.”
Ex-British ambassador Vicky Bowman and her husband Htein Lin were arrested in August on immigration violations.
Japan had called for the release of filmmaker Toru Kubota, who was sentenced last month to 10 years in prison for violating the country’s sedition laws for recording a demonstration. He will be released along with Burmese-American Kyaw Htay Oo, a former 88 Generation student activist.
The pro-democracy 88 Generation Students movement was named after the 1988 student-led protests against the military and formed in opposition of the current military leadership.