Ousted Myanmar ambassador tells UK to reject junta's envoys

Above: Model and actor Paing Takhon, seen here attending a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon, was one of the latest celebrities to be detained. It was unclear where he had been taken to, said his sister. Left: Myanmar's ousted ambassa
Myanmar’s ousted ambassador to the UK Kyaw Zwar Minn standing outside his country’s embassy in London yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Myanmar's ousted ambassador to the United Kingdom, who has been locked out of his country's embassy by the military, urged the British government yesterday to refuse to recognise the junta's envoys and send them back to Myanmar.

In a move that has implications for Myanmar's network of diplomats across the world, the ambassador was locked out of the London embassy on Wednesday by his deputy at the behest of the Myanmar military, which seized power in February.

"We believe the UK government would not back those who are working for the military junta, and we also would like to urge the UK government to send them back," ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn said through his spokesman, who read out a statement in English.

"We call on the UK government specifically to refuse to work with the charge d'affaires Chit Win that the military council has nominated or any other ambassador that it might try to nominate in future," the ambassador said.

There was no immediate response from Britain to the appeal but earlier yesterday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab praised the ousted envoy's courage and repeated his call for a restoration of democracy in Myanmar.

In a letter from Myanmar's embassy to Britain's Foreign Ministry, those in control of the embassy said deputy ambassador Chit Win had taken over as charge d'affaires as of Wednesday. Mr Kyaw Zwar Minn was recalled as ambassador on March 9, the letter said.

Mr Kyaw Zwar Minn said he had refused to obey the Foreign Ministry since then and has called for the release of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. "I have been locked out," he told Reuters late on Wednesday. "It is a kind of coup, in the middle of London."

The embassy drama puts Britain in a quandary: It has condemned and sanctioned the Myanmar military, but could find it hard to evict those holed up in the embassy, in the Mayfair area of west London.

Myanmar has been rocked by daily protests since the military seized power on Feb 1, with the authorities having launched a bloody crackdown on dissent.

Anti-coup demonstrators in Myanmar fought back yesterday with hunting rifles and firebombs against security forces in a town in the north-west, but at least 11 of the protesters were killed, domestic media reported.

Initially, six truckloads of troops were deployed to quell the protests in the town of Taze, the Myanmar Now and Irrawaddy news outlets said.

 Myanmar's ousted ambassa
Model and actor Paing Takhon, seen here attending a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon, was one of the latest celebrities to be detained. It was unclear where he had been taken to, said his sister. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

When the protesters fought back with guns, knives and firebombs, five more truckloads of troop reinforcements were brought in. Apart from those killed, about 20 protesters were wounded, the media said.

That would take the toll of civilians killed by security forces to more than 600 since the junta seized power, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. It had a toll of 598 dead as at Wednesday evening.

Arrest warrants have also been issued for hundreds of people, with the junta this week going after scores of influencers, entertainers, artists and musicians.

Model and actor Paing Takhon, 24, who is well known in Myanmar and Thailand, was one of the latest celebrities to be detained.

His sister, Ms Thi Thi Lwin, told Reuters that the military detained her brother at their parents' home in Yangon, where he had been staying for several days while unwell, suffering from malaria and a heart condition.

The security forces came with eight military trucks and about 50 soldiers, and it was unclear where he had been taken to, she said.

The country's most famous comedian Zarganar was arrested on Tuesday, media reported.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2021, with the headline 'Ousted Myanmar ambassador tells UK to reject junta's envoys'. Subscribe