Myanmar’s ambassador spent the night in his car after staff at the country’s London embassy staged a mini-coup and locked him out for supporting Aung San Suu Kyi.
Kyaw Zwar Minn, a vocal opponent of the February coup in Myanmar which saw military leaders seize control, slept in a black Volvo XC60 outside the Mayfair building he had occupied until his staff shut him out on Wednesday evening.
Minn was pictured climbing out of the vehicle – which has a picture of Ms Suu Kyi across the back window – on Thursday morning before posing for photos outside the sealed building in protest as police officers stood nearby.
He said he was in no doubt that the military junta in Myanmar would regard him as a ‘traitor’ because of his condemnation of the recent coup.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has condemned Myanmar’s ‘bullying actions’ in ousting Minn and paid tribute to the Ambassador’s ‘courage’ in standing up to the military junta.
Min’s wife and son, who are believed to live away from the Embassy in London, are not thought to have been present during the mini-coup.
It is understood that Minn will not spend tonight in his car. It is thought he wanted to stay nearby the Embassy in the hours after the coup in the hope British police might take action.
Kyaw Zwar Minn, Myanmar’s ambassador to London until his staff staged a mini-coup against him on Wednesday, spent the night in his car after being locked out of the embassy
Minn is seen standing next to the car holding a coffee late Wednesday night after the ‘coup’, with a large picture of Ms Suu Kyi across the back window
Minn makes a three-figured gesture in defiance of Myanmar’s military dictators as he speaks to journalists outside the embassy
It is believed Minn’s deputy Chit Win led the rebellion against him and has since assumed control of the diplomatic post as the military’s new charge d’affairs.
Minn today said Win’s supposed seizure of the embassy was an ‘unacceptable and disrespectful’ act against Myanmar’s people and the UK.
He added: ‘This kind of coup is happening in the middle of the UK, in the middle of London – this shouldn’t be happening.’
‘This is not Burma, this is London. They seized my embassy. I am not comfortable.’
Britain confirmed Thursday that it could no longer recognise Myanmar’s ambassador in London, after the ruling junta issued formal notification that he had been withdrawn for supporting the deposed government.
UK sources said the government, in line with diplomatic policy, had to accede to the junta’s decision regarding Kyaw Zwar Minn, after he was locked out of the embassy on Wednesday.
Kyaw Zwar Minn, a former colonel of 30 years standing in the military, spoke ahead of a meeting at Britain’s foreign ministry at 1:00pm (1200 GMT), and characterised the move by the UK not to recognise him ‘a British decision, not mine.’
Earlier today, he called on the British government not to recognise Win or his staff and instead send them back to Myanmar.
He claimed the embassy was ‘seized’ by the military attache in an ‘unacceptable and disrespectful’ act against Myanmar’s people and the UK.
Several of his staff are thought to still be inside the embassy, among them a child, and are not being released, CNN reported.
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.
Minn was left stranded after his deputy, Chit Win, led staff in rebelling against him for his continued support of Aug San Suu Kyi and opposition to Myanmar’s military junta
Minn today urged Britain not to recognise former deputy Chit Win as charge d’affairs and to deport him back to Myanmar along with embassy staff who turned on him
Junta hunts 120 celebs in Myanmar after actor is arrested
A leading Myanmar actor, singer and model who has backed the country’s anti-coup protests was arrested on Thursday, his sister said, as the junta hunts more than 100 celebrities for supporting the movement.
The country has been rocked by daily protests since the military seized power on February 1, and the authorities have launched a bloody crackdown on dissent, with hundreds killed and more than 2,500 arrested.
Paing Takhon, 24 – a star in both Myanmar and neighbouring Thailand – has been active in the protest movement both in person at rallies and through his massive social media following.
‘Some 50 soldiers with eight military trucks,’ came to arrest him from his mother’s home in the North Dagon area of Yangon early Thursday, his sister Thi Thi Lwin posted on Facebook.
‘As he’s seriously ill, they arrested him calmly without violence. We do not know where he’s taken,’ she added.
British diplomatic sources said today that they will have no choice but to stop recognising Minn as Myanmar’s representative in the UK after the country sent official notice that his diplomatic status has been withdrawn.
Meanwhile those inside the building are technically on Myanmarese soil, meaning British authorities have no jurisdiction.
Speaking outside the embassy today, Minn said: ‘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.
‘We call on the UK government specifically to refuse to work with the charge d’affairs Chit Win that the military council have nominated or any other ambassador that they might try to nominate in future.’
Minn added that the military has threatened embassy staff with ‘severe punishment’ if they do not comply.
It is not clear what will happen to Minn now. He was asked on Thursday if he plans to claim asylum in the UK, but said he had not decided yet.
He will likely be able to apply for asylum because of the risk of arbitrary detention or torture if he returns home.
Military leaders have cracked down on pro-democracy protesters and supporters of Ms Suu Kyi since their takeover in February, shooting hundreds dead on the streets and detaining thousands of others – including Ms Suu Kyi herself.
Mr Raab condemned the ‘bullying actions of the Myanmar military regime’ after the nation’s ambassador to the UK was barred from entering the London embassy.
He 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.’
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday night, Minn said that as he left the embassy his colleagues ‘stormed inside and took it.’
‘They are from the Myanmar military,’ he added. ‘They are refusing to let me inside.
‘They said they received instruction from the capital, so they are not going to let me in. This a coup.’
Dominic Raab has praised Minn’s ‘courage’, but diplomats say they have no choice but to stop recognising him as ambassador after his diplomatic credentials were withdrawn
Kyaw Zwar Minn is mobbed by journalists as he leaves his former embassy in London
Minn spoke to journalists outside the embassy today as he continued to oppose the military junta that took over his home country in February
A supporter of former Myanmar Ambassador to the UK Kyaw Zwar Minn cries as she stands outside the Myanmar Embassy
Police officers were scrambled to the Charles Street site but have not entered the building, which diplomatic protocol means is technically on foreign soil.
Protesters gathered on the street outside to rally against the military’s takeover of the embassy.
Police warned demonstrators the gathering was in violation of the UK’s coronavirus regulations and asked them to disperse.
Most had dispersed by sunset on Wednesday, but vans full of police officers were sighted in nearby streets.
Kyaw Zwar Minn said he was in contact with the British Foreign Office, and Whitehall sources confirmed the Government was speaking with the Myanmar regime.
Myanmar’s state broadcaster reportedly said the ambassador, who has served as Naypyitaw’s man in London since 2014, had been summoned back to Naypyitaw after making an unauthorised statement.
Kyaw Zwar Minn has been a thorn in the military’s side since the February coup and has called for the release of Suu Kyi and ousted President Win Myint, drawing praise for his ‘courage’ from Dominic Raab.
Britain has sanctioned members of Myanmar’s military and some of its business interests in wake of the coup, and has demanded the restoration of democracy.
An FCDO spokesperson said: ‘We are seeking further information following an incident at Myanmar’s embassy in London.’
Scotland Yard 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.’
Earlier this year, the military junta attempted to remove another diplomat – the ambassador to the United Nations – after he made an anti-army speech in February.
However, Kyaw Moe Tun refused to step down and has remained in his post in a move widely supported by the UN.
In the February speech, Tun called on the international community to shun the military leadership and force a return of power to the country’s democratically elected government.
Over 600 people have been killed by security forces since the junta seized power more than two months ago, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
The latest deaths were recorded on Wednesday after grenades and machine guns were allegedly used on protesters in the northwestern town of Kale, resulting in at least eight of the deaths.
Three of Myanmar’s armed insurgent groups have threatened to start fighting alongside protesters if the violence is not reined in, sparking fears the country could descend into civil war.
The UK and US have imposed sanctions on two military-owned conglomerates in recent weeks, ramping up condemnation of the junta and the campaign against protesters.
Both states have also demanded the military transfer power back to the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Minn posed for photos in front of the building in protest as police officers stood guard nearby, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab praising his ‘courage’
Minn was locked out of the building late Wednesday by staff loyal to the military junta because of his continued support for Ms Suu Kyi, forcing him to sleep in his car
Kyaw Zwar Minn pushes the intercom at the Myanmar embassy but is denied entry