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Former Myanmar ambassador to UK questioned by UK police over diplomatic residence dispute

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The ex-ambassador of Myanmar to the United Kingdom, Kyaw Zwar Minn, who was removed from his post following a military coup in 2021, has been interviewed by British police concerning his refusal to vacate a diplomatic residence, according to his legal representative.

Neil Swift, the lawyer representing Kyaw Zwar Minn, revealed that his client was interviewed by police on August 15 in connection with allegations of trespassing on diplomatic premises. Swift stated, “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.”

The diplomatic residence in question became a point of contention in April 2021, when diplomats aligned with the military junta took control of the embassy in central London. This action prevented Kyaw Zwar Minn, a supporter of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government, from accessing the premises. Aung San Suu Kyi’s government had been ousted by a coup in February of the same year.

During this period, the British government expressed its intention to provide protection to the ousted ambassador. Dominic Raab, the British foreign minister at that time, denounced the “bullying actions of the Myanmar military regime in London” and commended Kyaw Zwar Minn’s bravery.

Since then, Kyaw Zwar Minn has remained within the ambassadorial residence, refusing to relinquish it to representatives of the junta-controlled government. He rejects the legitimacy of the junta and maintains that the residence remains the property of Myanmar.

According to Swift, “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.”

As of now, Kyaw Zwar Minn has not been charged with any criminal offenses. Swift emphasized that the British attorney general must determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with any potential charges.

Requests for comment from both the British foreign office and the police have gone unanswered.

The coup in 2021 had dire consequences for Myanmar, resulting in a conflict that displaced over a million individuals, as reported by the United Nations. Additionally, thousands were arrested in connection with the coup. Tensions between Myanmar and the United Kingdom, its former colonial ruler, have markedly deteriorated since the military takeover.

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