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Myanmar Embassy in London 'seized' by military

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 08/04/2021 Lizzie Roberts, Lucy Fisher
a person standing in front of a store: Kyaw Zwar Minn, Myanmar's ambassador to the UK stands outside the London embassy - Jamie Lorriman © Jamie Lorriman Kyaw Zwar Minn, Myanmar's ambassador to the UK stands outside the London embassy - Jamie Lorriman

The Myanmar embassy in London was “stormed” and seized by allies of the nation’s new military regime, the ambassador has alleged.

Kyaw Zwar Minn, who has served as the Asian nation’s ambassador to the UK since 2014, told The Telegraph he had been “betrayed” by former colleagues whom he had worked alongside in the building.

Although himself a former military colonel, he drew the ire of his country’s armed junta last month after he expressed his opposition to the successful coup they launched on February 1.

He called publicly for the release of deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ousted president Win Myint. He also went on to hold a meeting with Dominic Raab, who applauded his “courage and patriotism” in speaking out. The Foreign Secretary called on the military regime to “end their brutal crackdown and restore democracy”.

Aung San Suu Kyi riding on the back of a car: Kyaw Zwar Minn, Myanmar's ambassador to the UK stands outside the London embassy - Jamie Lorriman © Provided by The Telegraph Kyaw Zwar Minn, Myanmar's ambassador to the UK stands outside the London embassy - Jamie Lorriman

In the aftermath of Kyaw Zwar Minn's statement, Myanmar’s state broadcaster said he had been recalled as ambassador for issuing an unauthorised declaration.

Blocked on Wednesday evening from re-entering the diplomatic mission, which is situated on Charles Street in Mayfair, he said: “When I left the embassy, they stormed inside the embassy and took it. They are from the Myanmar military.

“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. This is the UK, we are not in Myanmar, in Burma. They are not able to do this. The British Government won’t allow this one, you’ll see that.”

Myanmar's Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Kyaw Zwar Minn, stands by a car with a poster of Aung San Suu Kyi, as he is locked outside the Myanmar Embassy in London on April 7, 2021. - Myanmar's ambassador in Britain on Wednesday said a Yangon miltary-linked figure had "occupied" the embassy in London, and that he was barred from accessing the building. "So this is kind of a coup," ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn told AFP outside the central London building, the scene of earlier protests, adding that "defence attache, they occupy my embassy". (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP) (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images) Myanmar's Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Kyaw Zwar Minn, stands by a car with a poster of Aung San Suu Kyi, as he is locked outside the Myanmar Embassy in London on April 7, 2021. - Myanmar's ambassador in Britain on Wednesday said a Yangon miltary-linked figure had "occupied" the embassy in London, and that he was barred from accessing the building. "So this is kind of a coup," ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn told AFP outside the central London building, the scene of earlier protests, adding that "defence attache, they occupy my embassy". (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP) (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)

He indicated he was in contact with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) but declined to disclose the substance of the discussions.

He said he was “frustrated” by the events, adding: “This is London you know. They can’t be able to do this coup in the middle of London.”

However, he said he was not surprised by the raid, as he had expected an attempt to seize the building.

“I can guess their steps. They betrayed me, because they are from the military side.”

Myanmar ambassador to UK Kyaw Zwar Minn tries unsuccessfully to enter the Embassy of Myanmar in Mayfair, London. Picture date: Wednesday April 7, 2021. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images) © PA Wire/PA Images Myanmar ambassador to UK Kyaw Zwar Minn tries unsuccessfully to enter the Embassy of Myanmar in Mayfair, London. Picture date: Wednesday April 7, 2021. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)

Unconfirmed reports claimed that Chit Win, deputy ambassador, and the nation's military attaché had taken control of the embassy and locked the ambassador out, with Chit Win appointed the new de facto head of the nation’s mission.

Police descended on the site, although are not thought to have entered the building, while members of the Myanmar diaspora gathered on the street as night began to fall.

People were asked by the police to respect the coronavirus regulations and avoid gathering in groups larger than six.

Some police officers said they had warned members of the public that it was not an authorised protest and that they were breaching the guidelines by being there.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 08: Signs against military coup is seen in front of the embassy building of Myanmar after Myanmar's Ambassador to London, Kyaw Zwar Minn was prevented from entering the embassy building by the military attache following his announcement declaring that he does not support the military coup in his country, in London, United Kingdom on April 08, 2021. (Photo by Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) © 2021 Anadolu Agency LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 08: Signs against military coup is seen in front of the embassy building of Myanmar after Myanmar's Ambassador to London, Kyaw Zwar Minn was prevented from entering the embassy building by the military attache following his announcement declaring that he does not support the military coup in his country, in London, United Kingdom on April 08, 2021. (Photo by Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Thiha Soe, who travelled to stand outside the embassy in support of his country, said: “They’re the one who are hijacking our embassy it belongs to us not to the military. It is a coup.”

He added: “If they achieve this one they will do the same things to other embassies around the world. This belongs to us, it belongs to the people, the country.”

Government sources also told The Telegraph that it appeared that allies of the military junta in presiding in Naypyitaw, the Myanmar capital, had seized the building, but stressed that the situation remained clouded in uncertainty.

More than 530 protesters have been killed during a violent crackdown in Myanmar since the armed coup.

a group of people walking down the street: Police stand outside Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in London - Jamie Lorriman © Jamie Lorriman Police stand outside Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in London - Jamie Lorriman

The UK and US have led an international drive to slap sanctions on the nation’s military chiefs.

This week Britain widened the net of sanctions to cover Myanmar Economic Corporation, a conglomerate with close links to the junta. United Nations representatives have raised the alarm that a “bloodbath” may be imminent, amid fears that the country could descend into civil war.

Ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn last month said he spoke out in protest at the growing number of casualties at demonstrations in his nation. He insisted at that time that his was a “middle” ground position and that he had no plans to defect or seek asylum in the UK.

The FCDO was contacted for comment. 

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