London – Myanmar’s ambassador to the UK accused a figure linked to the Yangon army of occupying the embassy on Wednesday and preventing him from entering it, in an extraordinary diplomatic standoff a month after the envoy called on the junta to release deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Protesters gathered outside the building in London’s Mayfair district with Ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn as reports revealed he had been locked out. When asked who was inside, he replied, “Defense attache, they are occupying my embassy.”
The ambassador said he would stay outside the embassy “all night”, explaining “this is my building”.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military removed civilian leader Suu Kyi on February 1, with nearly 600 people killed in a crackdown on anti-coup protests that sparked international outrage and calls for restraint.
The junta recalled the ambassador last month after issuing a statement urging them to release Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.
“Diplomacy is the only answer and answer to the current impasse,” Kyaw Zwar Minn said in a statement tweeted by British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab.
The British Foreign Office, which sharply criticized the coup, said it was “seeking further information following an incident at the Myanmar embassy in London”, and the Metropolitan Police said that she was aware of the situation.
Kyaw Zwar Minn told the Daily Telegraph that “When I left the embassy they broke into the embassy and took it.
“They said they had received instructions from the capital, so they are not going to let me in,” he added, calling on the British government to intervene.
Demonstrations calling for the return of democracy and the release of Suu Kyi have rocked Myanmar almost daily since the coup.
Officials, medics and other key workers shot down tools as part of a civil disobedience movement aimed at preventing the military from ruling the country.
In response, security forces used rubber bullets and live ammunition to disperse the rallies and arrested thousands of activists.
International powers have expressed anger and dismay at the junta’s brutal approach and have imposed sanctions on key officials.
But while the UN Security Council condemned the deaths of civilians, it stopped before considering sanctions, with China and Russia against the move.
And so far diplomatic pressure appears to have little effect on the bloodshed.
A group representing the ousted civilian government said on Wednesday it had gathered 180,000 pieces of evidence showing junta rights violations, including torture and extrajudicial killings.
A lawyer for the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Representation Committee – a group of lawmakers from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party – met with UN investigators on Wednesday to discuss the junta’s alleged atrocities.
“This evidence shows large-scale human rights violations by the military,” the group said in a statement.
They include more than 540 extrajudicial executions, 10 deaths of prisoners in custody, torture, unlawful detentions and the disproportionate use of force against peaceful protests, the statement said.
The Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, a local watchdog group, says 581 civilians were killed in the crackdown and more than 2,700 arrested.
Nearly 50 of the dead were children.
With many protesters now in hiding to escape arrest, the junta is increasingly taking their family members hostage, according to the AAPP.
The head of the military authorities, General Min Aung Hlaing, insisted that they had treated the protests “democratically” in a speech reported by state media on Wednesday.
He accused the protest movement of wanting to “destroy the country” and said only 248 protesters were killed, along with 16 police officers.
At least three people were killed in the northern town of Kalay on Wednesday when security forces dismantled a protest camp, an NLD lawmaker and activist said, accusing the military of using at least one rocket-propelled grenade at the demonstrators.
Authorities have also issued arrest warrants for 120 celebrities, accusing them of disseminating information that could provoke a mutiny in the armed forces.
Robert Volterra, a lawyer for the CRPH – who claims the right to speak for the country instead of the junta – spoke to the UN’s independent investigative mechanism for Myanmar on Wednesday and said further meetings were scheduled for the next few days.
Rights group Amnesty International reported last month that the junta was using weapons on the battlefield against unarmed protesters and carrying out premeditated killings orchestrated by their commanders.
The growing bloodshed has prompted warnings that Myanmar could slide into a larger civil war.
In addition to breaking down protests and making arrests, security forces have also sought to cut news of the crisis, limiting access to the internet and independent media.
In response, some activists launched a daily two-page newsletter called “The Voice of Spring”, collating reports from independent media and posting them on Twitter.
The military insists it responds in proportion to what it says are violent and armed protesters.
He defended the seizure of power, citing allegations of electoral fraud in the November election which Suu Kyi’s party comfortably won.
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