Myanmar's military junta fired on Saturday the nation's ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, a day after giving a pro-democracy speech asking UN member countries to publicly denounce the Feb. 1 coup, CNN and AXIOS reported on Sunday.
Speaking to Reuters following his removal, Tun said that he "decided to fight back as long as I can." The announcement came as Myanmar's military intensified its clampdown on anti-coup protesters on Saturday.
State television MRTV said Tun had "abused the power and responsibilities of a permanent ambassador" and that he "betrayed the country."
Myanmar has been in turmoil since its military took control on Feb. 1 and arrested civilian government leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other members of her party, after officials claimed that elections held in November were fraudulent. The election panel found that the vote was free of any irregularity.
The UN does not officially recognize military rule as Myanmar's new government as it has not been given no official notice of any change, a UN official who spoke on condition of anonymity, said and so Tun remains Myanmar's UN envoy, for now.
Tun was appointed under the country's civilian government that shared power with the military before the coup. He said he was speaking on behalf of the Aung San Suu Kyi's government and asked UN members to condemn the military junta.
As a show of defiance, the UN ambassador also flashed the three-fingered "Hunger Games" salute used by the protesters on and adopted from recent demonstrations in neighboring Thailand.
Coup opponents hailed Tun as a hero and inundated social media with messages of thanks. Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, said that he was overwhelmed by the ambassador's "act of courage", adding on a tweet that "It's time for the world to answer that courageous call with action," according to Al-Jazeera News.