Thailand denies entry to model who denounced Myanmar junta in pageant speech

Han Lay, Miss Grand Myanmar looks on during an interview with Reuters in Bangkok, Thailand, April 2, 2021. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/

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BANGKOK, Sept. 22 (Reuters) – A Myanmar model who sought refuge in Thailand after speaking out against a military coup in her home country has been blocked from returning to Bangkok, Thai authorities said on Thursday, over what her manager said. said it was an Interpol message.

Han Lay, who drew international attention last year with a moving speech at a beauty pageant asking the people of Myanmar for urgent help during a military operation, did not have a valid visa to enter Thailand, the immigration service said.

The 23-year-old was not detained and arrangements were made to board a flight from Thailand, the department said in a statement.

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Nawit Itsaragrisil, founder of Thailand’s Miss Grand International pageant, which also represents Han Lay, said she had been in the transit zone of an airport in Bangkok since Wednesday afternoon.

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He said Han Lay was stopped on arrival because she was the subject of an Interpol message.

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

Myanmar has been in crisis since a coup in February last year sparked protests that the military repressed with deadly force and resulted in thousands of arrests.

The junta’s actions had multiple targets, from pro-democracy and youth groups to activists, politicians and even celebrities and social media influencers.

A spokesman for Myanmar’s ruling military council could not be reached for comment. Interpol did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether Han Lay was the subject of an Interpol notice.

Han Lay was competing in Miss Grand International when videos went viral on social media of her fighting back tears on stage as she spoke about the bloodshed in Myanmar on a day when more than 140 protesters were killed.

In an interview with Reuters last year, she said her people will “never give up”.

Han Lay’s Instagram posts indicate that she has spent most of the past year in Thailand. She was returning to the country on a flight from Vietnam when she was denied entry.

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Reporting by employees of Jiraporn Kuhakan, Poppy McPherson and Reuters; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Ed Davies

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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