Myanmar’s former ambassador to London was granted temporary shelter in the UK by the British government on Friday, local media reported. Earlier this week, Kyaw Zwar Minn said he had been locked out of his own embassy after it was seized by the military attache.
Minn had publicly declared loyalty to the democratically elected government of Myanmar which was overthrown in a military coup in February. He is himself a former colonel who spent 30 years in the military.
In a statement, the British Foreign Office said: “We condemn the way the Myanmar military in London barred their ambassador from entering the embassy on Wednesday evening. 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. We continue to call for an end to the coup in Myanmar and a swift restoration of democracy.”
On Wednesday, Minn spent the night in his car outside the embassy, and on Thursday met with Foreign Office minister Nigel Adams.
Adams tweeted a photo of the two of them meeting, writing alongside it: “Today I met Myanmar Ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn. I pay tribute to his courage and patriotism. We will support him to ensure his safety and security in the United Kingdom.”
Minn’s legal status in the UK depends both on his personal plans as well as what happens in Myanmar, which is still mired in violence.
On Thursday, Minn told local media: “This kind of coup is happening in the middle of the UK, in the middle of London – this shouldn’t be happening.”
He said the seizure was an “unacceptable and disrespectful” act against both the UK and the people of Myanmar.
Minn, who still believes he is the legitimate ambassador, called on Britain not to recognize the military attache as Myanmar’s new envoy, but the UK is also in a tight spot.
The Vienna Convention means an ambassador’s term officially ends once the host country — in this case Britain — has been told by the ambassador’s country – in this case Myanmar.
The UK Foreign Office has confirmed that it has received this notification, and said it “must accept the decision taken by the Myanmar regime.”