Dominic Raab has condemned the “bullying” Myanmar regime for barring the nation’s ambassador to the UK from entering his embassy after he criticised the military coup.
The Foreign Secretary on Thursday paid tribute to the “courage” of diplomat Kyaw Zwar Minn, who said he spent the night in his car having been locked out of the London embassy the evening before.
Kyaw Zwar Minn alleged he had been the victim of a “coup” in the streets of central London, saying the embassy was “seized” by the military attache in a “unacceptable and disrespectful” act against Myanmar people and the UK.
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 with 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.
But no formal notification of his replacement has been received as diplomats communicate with the charge d’affaires, or deputy.
Kyaw Zwar Minn insisted he remained the rightful ambassador and said he was going to the Foreign Office for talks on Thursday, as he suggested he wants the UK to kick out those who ousted him from the embassy.
Asked what he want 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”.
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.
“There has been a coup in Myanmar in February and now the same situation in central London. This is unacceptable and disrespectful not only to the people of Myanmar but it is also clearly disrespectful to all of democratic society in the UK.”
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 standing 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.
Foreign ministers from the G7 nations have also condemned the “intimidation and oppression” of protesters following the coup.
On March 8, Mr Raab tweeted that he had spoken to Kyaw Zwar Minn and had “praised his courage and patriotism in standing up for what is right”.
He added: “We join his call for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, and for a return to democratic rule.”
Protesters have left bunches of flowers and posters attached to railings outside the embassy to commemorate civilian victims of the coup.