Thursday, 08 April 2021 10:17

Ousted Myanmar ambassador urges UK to reject military’s envoy

Former Myanmar ambassador to the UK Kyaw Zwar Minn gestures with the three-finger democracy salute as he stands outside the Myanmar embassy in London, which he has been locked out of. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty


Myanmar’s ousted ambassador to the UK, who has been locked out of his embassy in London by the Myanmar military, has urged the British government 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 his London embassy on Wednesday by his deputy, Chit Win, at the behest of the Myanmar military which seized power on February 1st.

“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’affairs Chit Win that the military council have nominated or any other ambassador that they might try to nominate in future,” the ambassador said.

There was no immediate response from Britain to the appeal, but earlier on Thursday 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’affairs as of April 7th.

‘Coup in London’

Kyaw Zwar Minn was recalled as ambassador on March 9th, the letter said. He 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’s 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 difficult to evict those holed up in the embassy in London.

“We condemn the bullying actions of the Myanmar military regime in London yesterday, and I pay tribute to Kyaw Zwar Minn for his courage,” Mr Raab said before the appeal, repeating his call for an end to violence and a return to democracy in Myanmar.

Eleven killed

Anti-coup demonstrators in Myanmar fought back against security forces on Thursday with hand-made guns and firebombs in a town in the northwest, but at least 11 of the protesters were killed, domestic media reported.

Initially, six truckloads of troops were deployed to quell protesters in the town of Taze, the Myanmar Now and Irrawaddy news outlets said. When the protesters fought back with hand-made guns, knives and firebombs, five more truckloads of troops were brought in.

Fighting continued into Thursday morning and at least 11 protesters were killed and about 20 wounded, the media said. There was no word of any casualties among the soldiers.

That would take the toll of civilians killed by security forces to more than 600 since the junta seized power from the elected government of Ms Suu Kyi, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). It had a toll of 598 dead as of Wednesday evening.

Taze is near the town of Kale, where at least 12 people were killed in a similar clash between troops and protesters on Wednesday, according to news media and witnesses. Security forces fired live rounds, grenades, and machine-guns on protesters who were demanding the restoration of Ms Suu Kyi’s government, AAPP said.

In Yangon, the country’s biggest city, activists placed shoes filled with flowers to commemorate dead protesters.

Arrests

AAPP has said 2,847 people were currently being held in detention.

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

Paing Takhon (24), a model and actor who is well known in Myanmar and Thailand, was one of the latest celebrities to be detained, according to Reuters. He had condemned the military takeover and pledged support for Ms Suu Kyi.

His sister, Thi Thi Lwin, told Reuters that the military detained her brother at 4.30am 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, she said.

The country’s most famous comedian, Zarganar, was arrested on Tuesday, media reported. – Reuters