UK makes safe haven offer to Myanmar ambassador forced to sleep in car

Myanmar’s government in exile urges Britain to help the ambassador regain access to embassy

Mayank Aggarwal@journomayank
Friday 09 April 2021 07:31
Myanmar ambassador to UK locked out of London embassy

The UK has offered a safe haven to Kyaw Zwar Minn, Myanmar’s ambassador who was locked out of the embassy in London by military loyalists and forced to sleep in his car.

The ambassador alleged that on Wednesday the embassy was “seized” by the military attache in an “unacceptable and disrespectful” act against Myanmar’s people and the UK. “This kind of coup is happening in the middle of the UK, in the middle of London - this shouldn’t be happening," he said.

British foreign secretary Dominic Raab tweeted that he condemns the “bullying actions of the Myanmar military regime in London” and pays tribute to the ambassador for his courage.

“The UK continues to call for an end to the coup and the appalling violence, and a swift restoration of democracy,” he said.

UK’s foreign office said: “We pay tribute to the courage of Kyaw Zwar Minn in standing up for the people of Myanmar. Given the bullying behaviour towards Mr Minn, we are seeking to ensure he can live safely in the United Kingdom while he decides his long-term future.”

Nigel Adams, the UK’s minister of state at the foreign office, met the ambassador on Thursday.

“I pay tribute to his courage and patriotism. We will support him to ensure his safety and security in the United Kingdom,” tweeted Mr Adams.

On 1 February, Myanmar’s military replaced the democratically elected government in a coup and since then the southeast Asian country has witnessed widespread violence with hundreds of pro-democracy protesters killed during the pro-democracy agitation.

The events in Myanmar have been criticised by several western nations as well as the United Nations. Mr Minn, who has been Myanmar’s ambassador to the UK for over seven years, had also broken ranks with military rulers and demanded the release of Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been arrested by the military.

On Friday, the UK will also host an event for the United Nations Security Council members to hear their views on what is happening in Myanmar.

However, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), the Myanmar government in exile representing the National League for Democracy lawmakers ousted in the February coup, in a statement said that they have sent a diplomatic note of protest to the UK about the events surrounding the forceful ejection of the Myanmar ambassador.

The statement said that they hoped that “UK will assist the ambassador to regain access to the embassy as a matter of urgency” and emphasised that it is obliged under international law to do so.

Mr Minn was also the non-resident ambassador to Sweden, Ireland and Denmark. Before becoming the ambassador to the UK in 2013, he was Myanmar’s ambassador to France, and also served as ambassador to the Myanmar permanent mission of the United Nations in New York.

Benedict Rogers, who is the chief executive and founder of Hong Kong Watch, tweeted that “the UK must not recognise illegal, criminal junta in #Myanmar or any thug the regime sends as ambassador.”

“Kyaw Zwar Minn deserves respect & protection, & should continue to be regarded as legitimate ambassador unless and until the elected government appoints someone new,” he said.

Additional reporting by agencies

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