Britain on Thursday condemned “intimidation” by the Burmese junta after the country’s ambassador to London was ousted in an extraordinary diplomatic coup after he called for the release of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Diplomats loyal to Myanmar’s military authorities took over the embassy on Wednesday, leaving Ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn locked in the streets.
The ambassador said the Myanmar defense attaché had taken over the mission in “a kind of coup” two months after the military seized power in Myanmar.
More protesters killed
Daily protests calling for a return to democracy rocked the country and brought a brutal response from the armed forces, with nearly 600 civilians killed, according to a local watch group.
Myanmar’s security forces have struggled to quell protests and a civil disobedience movement aimed at reversing the February 1 military coup.
They used rubber bullets and live ammunition to disrupt rallies and used nighttime raids to arrest suspected dissidents.
The Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP) says some 600 civilians have been killed and nearly 2,900 detained.
The AAPP said 12 people were killed on Wednesday. Local media said 11 more were killed on Thursday, although AFP was unable to confirm the figure.
Junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing accused the protesters of wanting to “destroy the country” and said only 248 protesters were killed, along with 16 police officers.
Heartthrob actor and model arrested
As part of its efforts to suppress the movement, the junta issued a wanted poster for some 120 celebrities accused of stoking the protests by giving their support.
The military arrested prominent actor, model and idiot Paing Takhon on Thursday in a dawn raid on his mother’s home in Yangon.
The 24-year-old – a star in both Myanmar and neighboring Thailand – has been active in the protest movement both in person at rallies and through his huge following on social media.
In February, he posted pictures of himself in a white tracksuit with a megaphone, headphones and a fluffy white dog strapped to his chest during a protest.
The coup led to several high-level diplomatic defections, including the country’s ambassador to the United Nations.
The Ambassador’s unlikely house for one night
The junta recalled Kyaw Zwar Minn last month after issuing a statement urging them to release Suu Kyi and to impeach civilian president Win Myint.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted his support for the ambassador, who spent the night in his car outside the embassy.
“We condemn the acts of intimidation by the Myanmar military regime in London yesterday, and I pay tribute to Kyaw Zwar Minn for his courage,” Raab wrote.
“The UK continues to call for an end to the coup and appalling violence, and a swift restoration of democracy.”
British sources said Myanmar authorities officially notified Kyaw Zwar Minn’s dismissal as ambassador and, in accordance with diplomatic policy, the government had no choice but to accept it.
Protesters gathered outside the mission on Wednesday night with the ousted ambassador, who told the Daily Telegraph that “when I left the embassy they broke into the embassy and took it “.
Asked who had taken over, he replied: “Defense attaché, they are occupying my embassy”.
According to The Times newspaper, the ambassador said the defense attaché had sought to install his former deputy as charge d’affaires.
Myanmar military officials did not respond to an AFP request for comment.
International powers have expressed anger and dismay at the junta’s brutal approach, but the UN Security Council has stopped before considering sanctions, with China and Russia against the move.
The military has defended the seizure of power, citing allegations of voter fraud in the November election that Suu Kyi’s party comfortably won, and says it is responding proportionately to protests.