Britain condemned the “harassment” of Myanmar’s military government following the removal of the country’s ambassador to London in an extraordinary diplomatic coup after calling for the release of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Diplomats loyal to Myanmar’s military authorities took over the embassy on Wednesday, leaving Ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn locked in the streets.
The ambassador said the defense attaché took over the mission in “a kind of coup” two months after the military seized power in Myanmar and urged the international community to help his country .
“Please help our country and help our country because without international assistance we will not be able to get out of this mess,” he told reporters outside the embassy.
Daily protests demanding a return to democracy rocked the country and brought a brutal response from the armed forces, with around 600 civilians killed according to a local watch group.
Radio Free Asia reported on Friday that at least 11 other protesters were killed by security forces on Thursday. There were also reports of people abducted from their homes by the security forces without an arrest warrant.
Promising to deprive the military government of a vital source of revenue, the United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on Myanmar state-owned Myanmar Gems Enterprise.
The United States has pledged to “deny the Burmese sources of military funding, including major state-owned enterprises across Burma,” said Andrea Gacki, director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, using the old name of Myanmar.
The ministry said it would freeze all assets and ban any transactions with the company.
The coup sparked several high-level diplomatic defections, including the country’s ambassador to the United Nations Kyaw Moe Tun.
The military government recalled Kyaw Zwar Minn last month after issuing a statement urging them to release Aung San Suu Kyi and remove civilian President Win Myint.
Video shows Burmese security forces chasing and shooting an anti-coup protester. Sources told RFA that at least 11 protesters were killed across the country on Thursday as the military continued its brutal crackdown. pic.twitter.com/rpMkntwtsT
– Radio Free Asia (@RadioFreeAsia) April 8, 2021
No choice but to accept
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab posted on social media his support for the ambassador, who spent the night in his car outside the embassy.
“We condemn the acts of intimidation by the Myanmar military regime in London yesterday, and I pay tribute to Kyaw Zwar Minn for his courage,” Raab wrote.
“The UK continues to call for an end to the coup and appalling violence and a swift restoration of democracy.”
British sources said Myanmar authorities officially notified Kyaw Zwar Minn’s dismissal as ambassador and, in accordance with diplomatic policy, the government had no choice but to accept it.
The Defense Attaché appointed Deputy Ambassador Chit Win as Chargé d’affaires.
Myanmar military spokesman Zaw Min Tun confirmed that the country’s foreign ministry has been in contact with its British counterparts in London over the incident.
“We have already sent an official letter of appointment for Chit Win as Head of Mission there. They accepted, ”he told AFP news agency, adding that the ambassador had to return home.
Thrilling actor held
Myanmar’s security forces have struggled to quell protests and a civil disobedience movement aimed at reversing the February 1 military coup.
They used rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition to interrupt rallies and used nightly raids to stop suspected dissidents.
The Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP) says at least 614 civilians have been killed and nearly 2,900 detained, while 500 have received arrest warrants.
Six of the 11 deaths reported Thursday occurred in Taze, in the northwestern Sagaing region, after residents tried to prevent the army from reaching the town.
“Our people used (homemade) weapons and attacked them. But they used real bullets and shot us, ”a witness told AFP.
As part of its efforts to suppress the movement, the military government issued a wanted notice of around 140 celebrities accused of stoking the protests by giving their support.
On Thursday, the military arrested actor, model and pulsating Paing Takhon during a dawn raid at his mother’s home in Yangon.
The 24-year-old – a star from Myanmar and neighboring Thailand – has been active in the protest movement both in person at rallies and through his huge following on social media.
In February, he posted photos of himself in a white tracksuit with a megaphone, headphones and a fluffy white dog strapped to his chest during a protest.
International powers have expressed anger and dismay at the military government’s brutal approach, but the UN Security Council has stopped before considering sanctions, with China and Russia against the move.
The military defended the seizure of power, highlighting allegations of voter fraud in the November election which Aung San Suu Kyi’s party comfortably won and said it is responding proportionately to the protests.
Coup leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing accused the protesters of wanting to “destroy the country” and said only 248 protesters were killed, along with 16 police officers.