Myanmar’s London embassy ‘seized’ by military, ambassador locked out

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Myanmar ambassador to the UK Kyaw Zwar Minn (centre) stands locked outside the Myanmar embassy in London on Wednesday. AFP

Myanmar's ambassador to Britain accused a Yangon military-linked figure of occupying the embassy on April 7 and barring him access, in an extraordinary diplomatic stand-off a month after the envoy called for the junta to release ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Protesters gathered outside the building in London’s Mayfair neighbourhood with the ambassador, Kyaw Zwar Minn, as reports emerged he had been locked out. When asked who was inside, he replied: “Defence attache, they occupy my embassy.”

The ambassador said he would stay outside the embassy “all night”, explaining “this is my building”.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the army deposed civilian leader Suu Kyi on February 1, with nearly 600 people killed in a crackdown on anti-coup protests that has ignited international outrage and pleas for restraint.

The junta recalled the ambassador last month after he issued a statement urging them to release Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

“Diplomacy is the only response and answer to the current impasse,” Kyaw Zwar Minn said in the statement that was tweeted by British foreign secretary Dominic Raab.

Britain’s Foreign Office, which has been a strong critic of the coup, said it was “seeking further information following an incident at Myanmar’s embassy in London”, and the Metropolitan Police said they were aware of the situation.

Kyaw Zwar Minn told the Daily Telegraph that “when I left the embassy, they stormed inside the embassy and took it.

“They said they received instruction from the capital, so they are not going to let me in,” he added, calling on the British government to intervene.

Rights abuse dossier

Demonstrations calling for the return of democracy and the release of Suu Kyi have rocked Myanmar almost daily since the coup.

Civil servants, doctors and other key workers have downed tools as part of a civil disobedience movement aimed at preventing the military from running the country.

In response, the security forces have used rubber bullets and live rounds to break up rallies and detained thousands of activists.

International powers have voiced anger and dismay at the junta’s brutal approach, and imposed sanctions on key officials.

But while the UN Security Council has condemned civilian deaths, it has stopped short of considering sanctions, with both China and Russia against the move.

And so far, the diplomatic pressure appears to be having little effect on the bloodshed.

A group representing the ousted civilian government on April 7 said it has gathered 180,000 pieces of evidence showing rights abuses by the junta including torture and extrajudicial killings.

A lawyer for the Committee for Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) – a group of members of Parliament from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party – met UN investigators on April 7 to discuss alleged atrocities by the junta.