July 13, 2024

UK police question ousted Myanmar ambassador over residence row: lawyer

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British police have questioned Myanmar’s ex-ambassador to London, stripped of his post by the military junta after a 2021 coup, over his refusal to leave a diplomatic residence, his lawyer said Saturday.

“On 15 August, my client was interviewed by the police about an allegation that he trespassed on diplomatic premises, namely the ambassadorial residence in which he has lived since he became ambassador to the UK in 2013,” said Neil Swift, lawyer for Kyaw Zwar Minn.

In April 2021, diplomats close to the junta seized the embassy in central London and refused access to Kyaw Zwar Minn, a supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government which was overthrown by a coup in February that year.

At the time, the British government indicated that it would offer its protection to the ousted ambassador.

The British foreign minister at the time, Dominic Raab, condemned “the bullying actions of the Myanmar military regime in London” and paid tribute to Kyaw Zwar Minn for his “courage”.

The former envoy has not left the ambassador’s residence since. He has refused to give it back to his country’s representatives whose legitimacy he does not recognize.

The official residency “remains the property of the Union of Myanmar, and my client has always maintained that he is more than happy to hand over the keys to a representative of the democratically elected government of Myanmar”, Swift said in a statement sent to AFP.

Kyaw Zwar Minn has faced no criminal charges, he said, adding that the British attorney general would first have to decide “whether there is sufficient evidence of any offense at all”.

Neither the British foreign office nor the police responded to AFP requests for comment.

The 2021 coup plunged Myanmar into a conflict that has displaced more than a million people, according to the United Nations, with thousands more arrested.

Myanmar’s relations with the United Kingdom, the former colonial power, have deteriorated sharply since the military seized power.

©️ Agence France-Presse

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