LONDON – Myanmar’s ambassador to Britain, Kyaw Zwar Minn, was barred from entering his embassy on Wednesday, apparently in retaliation for criticizing the country’s military, who seized power in February and have since launched a bloody crackdown to pro-democracy protesters.
In a statement, Britain’s Office of Foreign Affairs, Community and Development said it was “looking for more information” after the episode, which drew a small crowd of protesters outside the Myanmar Embassy in London.
“I was blocked,” the ambassador told Reuters news agency, classifying the actions of diplomatic colleagues who prevented him from entering the building as a “sort of coup in the middle of London”.
Diplomatic sources confirmed that he had been excluded from the embassy and British media reports suggested that the ambassador’s deputy, Chit Win, had taken over the building with the help of a military attaché.
Last month, Kyaw Zwar Minn broke with Myanmar’s military rulers by issuing a statement calling for the release of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. “Diplomacy is the only answer and answer to the current stalemate,” he wrote in comments that remained on the embassy website on Wednesday night.
Myanmar’s state broadcaster later said that Kyaw Zwar Minn would be called back for making an unauthorized statement. But British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab praised “his courage and patriotism in defending what is right”.
“We join in his call for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, and for a return to democratic government,” added Raab.
The US and UK governments announced financial sanctions against Myanmar’s military leadership and demanded the restoration of democracy. The Biden government also suspended a trade pact with Myanmar after recent actions by Tatmadaw, the country’s army, during the bloody crackdown on civilian protests.
Since February, thousands have been injured and more than 550 killed in the demonstrations, including many young protesters.
Mr Kyaw Zwar Minn was not the first Myanmar diplomat to express concern about the military takeover. In February, the country’s ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, criticized the country’s military rulers at the UN General Assembly. The regime then said that it no longer represented the country.
On Wednesday, the London Metropolitan Police confirmed that a protest had taken place outside the Myanmar Embassy and that police were there to maintain order, but said no arrests had been made.