Britain on Thursday condemned “bullying” by the Myanmar junta after the country’s ambassador to London was ousted in an extraordinary diplomatic coup having called for the release of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Diplomats loyal to the Myanmar military authorities seized control of the embassy on Wednesday, leaving ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn locked out in the street.
The ambassador said the defence attache had taken 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 assist our country and help our country as 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 of democracy have rocked the country and brought a brutal response from the armed forces, with almost 600 civilians killed according to a local monitoring group.
Vowing to deprive the military junta of a key moneymaker, the United States on Thursday slapped sanctions on Myanmar’s state gem company, Myanmar Gems Enterprise.
The US is committed to “denying the Burmese military sources of funding, including from key state-owned enterprises throughout Burma,” said Andrea Gacki, director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, using Myanmar’s former name.
The department said it would block all assets and ban any transactions with the company.
The coup has prompted several high-profile diplomatic defections, including the country’s ambassador to the United Nations.
The junta recalled Kyaw Zwar Minn last month after he issued a statement urging them to release Suu Kyi and deposed civilian President Win Myint.
– No choice but to accept –
British foreign minister Dominic Raab tweeted his support for the ambassador, who spent the night in his car outside the embassy.
“We condemn the bullying actions of 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 the appalling violence, and a swift restoration of democracy.