Myanmar Model Who Criticized Her Government Denied Entry to Thailand

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Miss Han Lay. on the stage of Miss Grand International 2020 pageant in Bangkok.

Myanmar Miss Grand 2020 model Thaw Nanda Aung, popularly known as Han Lay, has been detained by Thai authorities at the Suvarnabhumi Airport, claiming that she doesn’t have a valid visa to enter the country.   

Ms. Han Lay is wanted by Myanmar authorities who are miffed at her for highlighting their atrocities on a global platform at Miss Grand International 2020 pageant in Bangkok.

At the competition, she said, “While I am standing here on this stage, more than 100 people have died. I am saddened by the loss of the lives of these people. The people in Myanmar have taken to the streets to fight for democracy. I too want to see democracy in the country. Please help Myanmar. We need your urgent international help right now.”

After the competition she remained in Thailand for her safety. This week she had just gone to Vietnam for a short holiday and on her return she was detained at the airport owing to a notice allegedly issued by interpol.

Reuters reported that arrangements are being made to fly the 23-year-old out of Thailand. However, Nawit Itsaragrisil, founder of Thailand’s Miss Grand International pageant, who also represents Han Lay, informed that she has been in the transit area of a Bangkok airport since Wednesday afternoon.

“She doesn’t want to go anywhere else. She wants to live in Thailand,” he told Reuters. “She’s waiting for a solution on how she can stay in Thailand.”

Ms. Han also posted a frantic message on her Facebook last night saying that the Myanmar police are already at Suvarnabhumi Airport and wanted to talk to her.

Speaking to Democratic Voice of Burma she added, “I had to spend the night at the airport immigration. I was going to be sent back to Vietnam this morning, but my sister contacted UNHCR [The UN Refugee Agency]. UNHCR told me not to board the plane to Vietnam, [and that] I [could] be sent back to Myanmar.

“I did not commit any crimes. I only used my rights to speak out about what I stand against. I still do not feel okay even if I am abroad. I feel more for the people in Myanmar.”

Han Lay has often been critical of the Myanmar military and pleaded with the international community to help in restoring democracy in her country. If she was coerced and repatriated back to Myanmar she could face sedition charges under Section 124/1 of the Penal Code. The maximum penalty for the said crime is up to 20 years in prison. The junta has executed four democracy activists in July. Myanmar’s junta government executed four democracy activists in July, prompting international condemnation. This was the first use of capital punishment in the country since 1988.