Myanmar’s military regime has recalled the country’s ambassador to the UK after he declared his opposition to last month’s coup and issued a statement demanding the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Kyaw Zwar Minn had also met the UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, to condemn the actions of the military. State TV said he was being recalled for releasing an unauthorised statement.
The junta will be eager to nip any global diplomatic rebellion in the bud, and it is possible there will now be a battle for control over the London embassy, as well as concerns about the personal safety of the ambassador. There is a strong chance he will be arrested if he returns home, so he may feel forced to apply for asylum if the regime does not back down.
In his statement issued on Monday, Kyaw Zwar Minn said “an ambassador is a diplomat. He therefore chooses the diplomatic path. The answer to the current crisis can only be at the negotiations table.”
Calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, he said “diplomacy is the only response and answer to the current impasse”. He also said he agreed with the spirit of the UK aide-memoire condemning the coup. He promised the embassy would remain open and would seek to provide consular services. He said that until now his appointment “has been continued by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the ambassador receives instructions from State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi”.
The senior diplomatic figure has represented Myanmar in London since 2013.
Raab met the ambassador on Monday and afterwards praised him, saying: “I commend the courage and patriotism of Myanmar Ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn in calling for Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint to be released and for the results of the 2020 election to be respected.
“The military regime must end their brutal crackdown, and restore democracy.”
The ambassador was also accredited to Denmark and his decision has been praised by the Danish foreign minister, Jeppe Kofod.
Some in Myanmar were sceptical about the credentials of the London ambassador, pointing to his military background and claiming he had not gone as far as outright civil disobedience.
Last week, Myanmar’s embassy in Washington also signalled a break with the junta, issuing a statement decrying the deaths of anti-coup protesters and calling on authorities to “fully exercise utmost restraint”.