LONDON – Besieged by mass protests, global condemnations and sanctions since taking power in February, Myanmar’s military has also faced a calmer protest by the country’s ambassador to the UK.
So on Wednesday, they locked him out.
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Standing on the sidewalk, dressed in sneakers and waiting by his car in London’s upscale Mayfair, Ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn told reporters he was kicked out of the embassy by his deputy after refusing to ‘obey the Myanmar military junta.
“It’s kind of a coup in the middle of London,” he told Reuters. “You can see they are occupying my building.”
British police stood guard outside the South East Asian country’s embassy as a handful of protesters against the coup and the army’s deadly crackdown gathered in the street outside .
Kyaw Zwar Minn, who took the post in the UK capital in 2013 and previously served in France, then issued a statement urging the UK government not to recognize or work with a replacement linked to the military.
“The ambassador has been recalled by the Myanmar military regime – since then he has stopped following instructions from Myanmar’s foreign ministry,” he said through his spokesperson.
“We believe that the British government would not support those who work for the military junta and we would also like to urge the British government to fire them,” the ambassador said.
In a letter to the British Foreign Office from the Myanmar embassy, seen by Reuters, embassy checkers said Kyaw Zwar Minn was recalled on March 9. Deputy Ambassador Chit Win took over as Chargé d’affaires on April 7. said the letter.
The UK said on Thursday it would no longer recognize Kyaw Zwar Minn as ambassador, under protocol, now that the junta had officially notified UK authorities of its withdrawal.
NBC News has not verified the existence of the letter.
NBC News did not immediately receive a response to requests for comment from the Myanmar Embassy in London or the country’s Foreign Office.
Like the United States, Britain sanctioned members of Myanmar’s military and some of its business interests following the coup.
“We condemn the intimidation of the Myanmar military regime in London yesterday, and I pay tribute to Kyaw Zwar Minn for his courage,” said British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab tweeted Thursday. “The UK continues to call for an end to the coup and appalling violence, and a swift restoration of democracy.”
The military seized power on February 1 from the elected government of Suu Kyi, who is currently in detention and faces various charges.
The junta claimed there were irregularities in the voting lists for last November’s election, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won in a landslide.
The country’s ambassador to the United Nations was sacked in February after delivering a touching speech in New York City, declaring his loyalty to the fallen civilian government and calling on the world not to ease the pressure on the military.
The UN, which condemned the coup, said last month that its special envoy would attempt to visit the country in the coming weeks.
Anti-coup protesters continued to demonstrate in Myanmar despite a deadly crackdown by security forces.
The death toll has skyrocketed in recent weeks as clashes escalated, with more than 600 civilians, including many children, killed since the junta took power, according to the human rights group. man the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners.
At least 11 protesters were killed on Thursday, national media reported.
In a speech to the soldiers broadcast by state media on Sunday, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing said the security forces “used the utmost restraint” against armed rioters who caused violence and lawlessness.
The junta also announced arrest warrants this weekend against more than 60 celebrities, social media influencers, models and musicians in Myanmar for incitement to hatred.
Reuters and Matteo Moschella contributed.