UK condemns ‘bullying’ Myanmar regime as ambassador to UK is ousted

Kyaw Zwar Minn said the country’s military coup was now playing out in Mayfair.

Military coup in Myanmar
Military coup in Myanmar

Myanmar’s military coup has reached the streets of London, the country’s ex-ambassador claimed after he was ousted when officials loyal to the junta barred him from the embassy.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemned the “bullying” Myanmar regime for their response to Kyaw Zwar Minn after he criticised the military coup.

He paid tribute to the “courage” of the diplomat, who said he spent the night in his car having been locked out of the embassy in Mayfair, central London, on Wednesday.

Kyaw Zwar Minn alleged the embassy was “seized” by the military attache in an “unacceptable and disrespectful” act against Myanmar’s people and the UK.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, he said: “This kind of coup is happening in the middle of the UK, in the middle of London – this shouldn’t be happening.”

Kyaw Zwar Minn said he still believed he was ambassador but when it was put to him that the Myanmar state had declared he was no longer their envoy, he said: “I haven’t got that information yet.”

The diplomat had called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s elected leader who was detained in the wake of the military seizing power in a coup on February 1, a move which has sparked weeks of protest and a retaliation from the regime resulting in bloodshed.

British officials were understood to have pressed Myanmar’s authorities on Wednesday night on whether the regime was formally terminating the ambassador’s position.

The UK has since received that confirmation, and it was argued within the Foreign Office that the decision of the Myanmar regime must be rejected as the UK has a policy of recognising states, not governments.

Military coup in Myanmar
Myanmar’s former ambassador to the UK, Kyaw Zwar Minn, speaks to media outside the Myanmar embassy in Mayfair, London, which he has been barred from entering (Ian West/PA)

But no formal notification of his replacement has been received as diplomats communicate with the charge d’affaires, or deputy.

Labour called for Mr Raab to explain why he accepted the dismissal from the regime and to give the diplomat “support and protection”.

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said: “Having executed a brutal coup against a democratically elected government, the Myanmar military junta is now applying the very same strong-arm methods here in the UK.

“The Foreign Secretary must explain why the Government has accepted the dismissal of the Myanmar ambassador by what it recognises is an illegitimate military regime committing appalling violence against its own people.”

Kyaw Zwar Minn will hold talks with the Foreign Office on Thursday, as he suggested he wants the UK to kick out those who ousted him from the embassy.

Asked what he wants the Government to do, he gestured to the embassy in Mayfair’s Charles Street and said “out”, and when pressed if he wants the current occupants to be kicked out, he responded “yes”.

Kyaw Zwar Minn
Kyaw Zwar Minn outside the Myanmar embassy (Ian West/PA)

Mr Raab tweeted: “We condemn the bullying actions of the Myanmar military regime in London yesterday, and I pay tribute to Kyaw Zwar Minn for his courage.

“The UK continues to call for an end to the coup and the appalling violence, and a swift restoration of democracy.”

A statement read out on behalf of Kyaw Zwar Minn outside the embassy said he was facing repercussions after making a statement in March condemning the coup in Myanmar and calling for a return of democracy in the South East Asian country.

“Since then he has stopped following instruction from the Myanmar foreign ministry and he has been meeting with many diplomatic counterparts and Myanmar community to discuss the current situation in Myanmar hoping to find a peaceful solution,” the statement continued.

“Due to his stance the Myanmar embassy in London has been seized by the military attache yesterday evening. The ambassador has been locked out since then.”

Military coup in Myanmar
Kyaw Zwar Minn next to a car bearing Aung San Suu Kyi’s image (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Kyaw Zwar Minn was seen getting out of a car that bore a large image of Ms Suu Kyi across its rear window on Wednesday evening and ringing a doorbell as he unsuccessfully tried to enter the building while a small number of police officers stood nearby.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has condemned the ousting of the elected government in Myanmar and criticised the “unlawful imprisonment of civilians” after Ms Suu Kyi was detained.

Myanmar’s military has since violently cracked down on opponents, with security forces reportedly killing hundreds of protesters and bystanders.

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