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Myanmar Junta Detains Artist-Activist Htein Lin 

Myanmar artist Ko Htein Lin was arrested Wednesday night alongside his spouse, the previous British ambassador Vicky Bowman. In response to two nameless sources who spoke with the New York Times, the couple was transported to Insein Jail, the notorious facility in Myanmar the place political prisoners have been detained beneath numerous navy dictatorships over the previous half-century. Each had been charged with immigration legislation violations, with their listening to set for September 6.

The navy junta — which seized energy from the democratically elected, civilian authorities in February 2021 — has progressively escalated its assaults on pro-democracy activists. It eliminated former state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi from energy when it took over, and positioned her beneath home arrest, subsequently sentencing her to 5 years in jail on corruption costs in a trial held in secret. In late July, the junta introduced that they’d executed 4 activists — two of whom Htein Lin known as “friends” in an interview with the Art Newspaper simply two weeks in the past. “They were fellow artists — musicians, painters, poets,” he stated, including, “no one who lives in Myanmar today feels safe. Life is very fragile, whoever you are.” 

Since final yr’s coup, the junta has steadily continued to respond with violence to protests and strikes, deploying water cannons, rubber bullets, and reside fireplace on demonstrators. The United Nations warns that Myanmar is experiencing an “intensification of violence and a rapid rise in poverty” amid a deteriorating human rights panorama. In the meantime, Myanmar is entering a second successive yr of financial contraction, a results of each macroeconomic circumstances and inside political battle. 

Lin’s profession has been characterised by vocal political activism, starting along with his participation within the pupil motion at Yangon College in 1988. When a navy takeover compelled him to go underground, he studied artwork informally in a refugee camp and later a pupil insurgent camp. He staged his first solo reveals in Yangon in 1996 and 1997 upon his return, earlier than being arrested and locked in jail for seven years for his activism. Regardless of the overriding restrictions of imprisonment, Htein Lin continued to develop his inventive observe whereas incarcerated, and as soon as told the New York Occasions that jail was the place he produced his finest work. Over the course of his time in jail, Htein Lin smuggled out about 300 work and sculptures, a few of which landed within the Burmese artwork historical past archives on the Worldwide Institute of Social Historical past in Amsterdam. Lin used jail uniforms, syringes, and cigarette lighters as his inventive mediums.

Htein Lin and Bowman be part of over 15,000 individuals who have been arrested and 12,000 who’ve been imprisoned since final yr’s coup. The director of the human rights group Burma Marketing campaign UK advised the New York Occasions that Bowman’s detention was “shocking and surprising news,” suggesting that she’s being held hostage for her husband’s activism.

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