LONDON — Myanmar’s ambassador to Britain, Kyaw Zwar Minn, was locked out of his own embassy on Wednesday, apparently in retaliation for criticizing the country’s military, which seized power in February and has since launched a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
In a statement, Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said that it was “seeking further information” following the episode, which drew a small crowd of protesters outside the Myanmar Embassy in London.
“I have been locked out,” the ambassador told the Reuters news agency, calling the actions of diplomatic colleagues who prevented him from entering the building as a “kind of coup in the middle of London.”
Diplomatic sources confirmed that he had been excluded from the embassy and British media reports suggested that the ambassador’s deputy, Chit Win, had taken charge of the building with the help of a military attaché.
Last month, Mr. Kyaw Zwar Minn broke ranks with Myanmar’s military rulers by issuing a statement that called for the release of the detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. “Diplomacy is the only response and answer to the current impasse,” he wrote in comments that remained on the embassy’s website on Wednesday night.
Myanmar’s state broadcaster said later that Mr. Kyaw Zwar Minn would be recalled for making an unauthorized declaration. But the British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, praised “his courage and patriotism in standing up for what is right.”
“We join his call for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, and for a return to democratic rule,” Mr. Raab added.
The U.S. and British governments have announced financial sanctions against Myanmar’s military leadership and demanded the restoration of democracy. The Biden administration also suspended a trade pact with Myanmar following recent actions by the Tatmadaw, the country’s military, during the bloody suppression of protests by civilians.
Since February, thousands have been injured and more than 550 killed in the demonstrations, including many young protesters.
Mr. Kyaw Zwar Minn was not the first Myanmar diplomat to voice concern at the military takeover. In February, the country’s ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, criticized the country’s military rulers in front of the U.N. General Assembly. The regime then said he no longer represented the country.
On Wednesday, London’s Metropolitan Police confirmed that a protest had taken place outside the Myanmar Embassy and that officers were on the scene to keep order, but said that no arrests had been made.