Myanmar envoy who criticized military coup prevented from entering the embassy in the UK

LONDON – Plagued by mass demonstrations, global condemnation and sanctions since the seizure of power in February, Myanmar’s military also faced a quieter protest from the country’s ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Then, on Wednesday, they locked him out.

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Standing on the sidewalk, wearing sneakers and waiting next to his car in London’s sophisticated Mayfair area, Ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn told reporters that he had been prevented from entering the embassy by his deputy after refusing to obey the military junta. Myanmar.

“It is a kind of coup in the middle of London,” he told Reuters. “You can see that they occupy my building.”

British police were standing guard outside the South East Asian country’s embassy while a handful of protesters against the coup and the deadly military repression gathered in the street.

Myanmar’s ambassador to the UK, Kyaw Zwar Minn, stands up after being prevented from entering the London embassy on April 8, 2021.Toby Melville / Reuters

Kyaw Zwar Minn, who took office in the British capital in 2013 and previously served in France, subsequently issued a statement urging the British government not to recognize or work with any military-related replacement.

“The ambassador has been called back by the military regime in Myanmar – he has since stopped following instructions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar,” he said through his spokesman.

“We believe that the UK government would not support those who are working for the military junta and we would also like to urge the UK government to send them back,” said the ambassador.

Kyaw Zwar Minn broke ranks and called an elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi to be released in a statement on March 8, with the United Kingdom praising the ambassador of the time for his “courage and patriotism”.

In a letter to the British Foreign Ministry at the Myanmar embassy, ​​seen by Reuters, those who controlled the embassy said that Kyaw Zwar Minn was called back on March 9. Deputy Ambassador Chit Win took over as business officer from April 7. , said the letter.

The United Kingdom said on Thursday that it would no longer recognize Kyaw Zwar Minn as ambassador, according to the protocol, now that the board has issued a formal notification to British authorities about its removal.

NBC News has not verified the letter’s existence.

NBC News did not immediately receive a response to requests for comment from the Myanmar embassy in London or the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Like the United States, Britain sanctioned members of Myanmar’s army and some of its commercial interests after the coup.

“We condemned the intimidation actions of the Myanmar military regime in London yesterday and pay tribute to Kyaw Zwar Minn for his courage,” said Britain’s Foreign Minister Dominic Raab tweeted On thursday. “The United Kingdom continues to call for an end to the coup and terrible violence, and for a rapid restoration of democracy.”

The military seized power on February 1 from the elected government of Suu Kyi, who is currently in detention facing several charges.

The board claimed that there were irregularities in the voting lists for last November’s election, which the Suu Kyi National League for Democracy party won overwhelmingly.

The country’s ambassador to the United Nations was dismissed in February after giving an emotional speech in New York, declaring his loyalty to the deposed civilian government and asking the world not to ease the pressure on the military.

The UN, which condemned the coup, said last month that its special envoy would try to visit the country in the coming weeks.

Anti-coup protesters continued to protest in Myanmar, despite deadly repression by security forces.

The death toll has soared in recent weeks as clashes have intensified, with more than 600 civilians, including many children, killed since the junta took power, according to the human rights group Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners. .

At least 11 protesters were killed on Thursday, national media reported.

In a speech to soldiers broadcast on state media on Sunday, General Min Aung Hlaing said that security forces were “exercising the greatest control” against armed protesters who were causing violence and anarchy.

Over the weekend, the junta also announced arrest warrants for more than 60 celebrities, social media influencers, models and musicians in Myanmar on charges of incitement.

Reuters and Matteo Moschella contributed.