The Myanmar junta dismissed two diplomats at the country’s embassy in Tokyo after they boycotted their duties in protest against the Feb. 1 coup and ensuing violent military crackdown on demonstrators, diplomatic sources said Wednesday.
The move follows the firing of Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations in February and the embassy lock-out of its envoy to Britain in April, and marks the first time for the ousting of Myanmar diplomats to be confirmed in Japan.
The junta-controlled Foreign Ministry withdrew the pair’s diplomatic status and passports and revoked their access to the embassy compound in which they were living until early March, the sources said.
The junta has applied for diplomatic visas for military-appointed replacements for Aung Soe Moe, 51, a first secretary, and a 27-year-old second secretary, who wishes to remain anonymous, according to the sources.
Since Japan has condemned the coup, analysts are watching to see how Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government handles their cases, especially given that Aung Soe Moe’s Japanese Foreign Ministry-issued credentials expire on July 15.
Aung Soe Moe and the second secretary have requested that Japan maintain their diplomatic visas and credentials, citing their legitimacy as officials assigned by the democratically elected government led by civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which was toppled by force.
Since leaving the embassy compound on March 11, they have been living separately in Tokyo with the support of Myanmar expatriates in Japan.
A Japanese Foreign Ministry official declined to comment on their current diplomatic status, saying only, “We will judge their status as we monitor how the situation in Myanmar evolves.”
Japan has strongly urged Myanmar’s armed forces to cease violent acts, release Suu Kyi and other detainees, and restore the country to democracy.
The Myanmar Embassy in Tokyo made no comment on the cases of Aung Soe Moe, who was in charge of general and administrative affairs, and the second secretary, who handled political and labor issues.
The two started boycotting their duties at the embassy when they announced March 6 on Facebook their respective participation in the civil disobedience movement, or CDM, against military rule.
“The Myanmar military has been viciously attacking unnamed protestors and civilians, resulting in the killings of people including children. The mounting evidence of military activity clearly indicates a violation of international humanitarian law,” Aung Soe Moe said.
Since the military takeover of the government, Myanmar’s security forces have killed 805 peaceful protestors and other citizens, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a local monitoring group.
“Given these disheartening situations, we are no longer able to represent the illegitimate military group at bilateral and international levels in Japan in our right conscience and have decided to join the CDM,” Aung Soe Moe said in an interview.
Aung Soe Moe said he is spending his daily life as usual but faces difficulties such as communicating with locals in Japanese and having no regular salary.
On top of that, he said, “I’m really concerned about my life in Tokyo because our diplomatic status and passports are nullified.”
The second secretary did not respond to a request for an interview.
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