Wednesday , December 7 2022
Myanmar ambassador to the UK Kyaw Zwar Minn tries unsuccessfully to open his embassy door

Myanmar’s UK ambassador ‘locked out’ of London embassy after speaking out against coup

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The ambassador calls the action a “kind of coup, in the middle of London” and says he has contacted the Foreign Office.

Kyaw Zwar Minn told Reuters news agency “I have been locked out”, having spoken out against the military coup that has led to the deaths of around 600 protesters.

And he told Sky News: “This is not Burma, this is London. They seized my embassy. I am not comfortable.”

Myanmar ambassador to UK Kyaw Zwar Minn outside the Embassy of Myanmar in Mayfair, London. Picture date: Wednesday April 7, 2021.
Mr. Zwar Minn was locked out after calling for the release of detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi (pictured on his car)

His deputy, Chit Win, has barred him and taken charge of the building with the help of the military attaché, diplomatic sources told Reuters.

“It’s a kind of coup, in the middle of London… you can see that they occupy my building,” said the ambassador, adding that he was talking to the UK Foreign Office about the development.

Last month, he had called for the release of Ms. Suu Kyi and ousted President Win Myint.

Metropolitan Police said on Wednesday evening that there was a protest outside the embassy and that public order officers were on the scene. No arrests have been made.

Mr. Zwar Minn spoke to protesters gathered at the Mayfair building and insisted: “This is my building, I need to go inside. That’s why I’m waiting here.”

At least more than 15 protesters are reported to have been shot dead by security forces in Myanmar on Wednesday, according to activists and media in the country.

Dozens are also said to have been wounded.

Police said public order officers were outside the embassy on Wednesday evening
Police said public order officers were outside the embassy on Wednesday evening
Police said public order officers were outside the embassy on Wednesday evening
The ambassador described the situation as a ‘coup in the middle of London’

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said grenades and machine guns had been used on protesters in the northwestern town of Kale, accounting for at least eight of the deaths.

Houses and community clinics were also raided, said the group.

The Myanmar Now news outlet said the death toll in the town was at least 11, and at least 20 nationwide.

Anti-coup protesters burned a Chinese flag in Yangon on Wednesday. Pic: AP
Anti-coup protesters burned a Chinese flag in Yangon on Wednesday. Pic: AP

In other unrest, a Chinese-owned factory was set on fire in the country’s biggest city, Yangon.

China is seen to being supportive of the military’s action and there were more than 30 arson attacks on Chinese-invested factories in Yangon last month.

Residents also said government buildings, a military hospital and a shopping centre were targeted by a series of small blasts. No casualties were reported.

The US embassy said it had received reports of “handmade ‘sound bombs,’ or fireworks meant to create noise and cause minimal damage”.

A demonstrator gestures near a barricade
A protester behind a barricade in Mandalay last month – about 600 have now died

The army ousted Myanmar’s elected government on 1 February, claiming there had been voter fraud in last year’s election – something the independent election commission disputes.

As of Wednesday, some 598 people have been killed during protests over the power grab, according to the AAPP, with more than 2,800 detained.

Demonstrators hold placards with the image of Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest against the military coup, outside the Central Bank of Myanmar in Yangon, Myanmar, February 15, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
Aung San Suu Kyi and top figures in her party are still being held

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, leader of the coup, has said the pro-democracy demonstrators are trying to “destroy” the country.

He claims the civil disobedience movement has disrupted hospitals, schools, offices, and factories.

Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi and top figures in her National League for Democracy party – which won a landslide in November’s election – are still being held against their will.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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