Myanmar’s ambassador to London has been locked out of the country’s embassy – apparently by his deputy, who was reported to have taken charge on behalf of the military.
Since a military coup in February, Myanmar’s army has launched a harsh crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and has been accused of hundreds of extrajudicial executions as well as torture and illegal detentions.
London ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn has broken ranks with the ruling junta in recent weeks, calling for the release of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
“I have been locked out,” he told Reuters outside the embassy in central London.
“It’s a kind of coup, in the middle of London … you can see that they occupy my building,” he said, adding that he was talking to Britain’s Foreign Office about the situation.
Four diplomatic sources with knowledge of the matter said that deputy ambassador Chit Win had taken over as charge d’affairs and he and the military attaché had locked the ambassador out of the building.
Kyaw Zwar Minn spoke next to the embassy, where police were standing guard. He spoke to protesters on the street outside.
Metropolitan police said in a statement: “We are aware of a protest outside the Myanmar embassy in Mayfair, London. Public order officers are in attendance. There have been no arrests.”
Last month, Kyaw Zwar Minn had called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and ousted President Win Myint, drawing praise for his “courage” from Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary.
Britain has sanctioned members of Myanmar’s military and some of its business interests as a result of the coup, and has demanded the restoration of democracy.
The Foreign Office had no immediate comment on the embassy incident.
“This is my building, I need to go inside. That’s why I’m waiting here,” Kyaw Zwar Minn said.