Han Lay: Myanmar beauty queen threatened by junta leaves Thailand for Canada
A Myanmar beauty queen who fled to Thailand after criticizing the ruling military junta in her home country has left Bangkok for Canada where she is expected to seek asylum, officials tell CNN. Thai immigration.
Han Lay, 23, caught international attention with a moving speech at the finals of the Miss Grand International Myanmar pageant in 2021 when she held up a banner with the words ‘Pray for Myanmar’ to raise awareness of human rights atrocities of the man committed by the leaders of the junta.
She received death threats after the speech and decided not to return home after the pageant – which took place in Thailand.
However, she appeared to be under threat of deportation after returning to Thailand last Wednesday from a trip to Vietnam. She was arrested by officials at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok who said they discovered a problem with her passport and since then she has been in limbo.
Archayon Kraithong, deputy head of Thailand’s immigration bureau, told CNN on Wednesday that Han Lay left Bangkok on Tuesday evening. « His final destination is Canada, » he said without giving further details.
Han Lay previously told CNN that she was seeking political asylum in Canada as she wanted to stay in Thailand.
« Han Lay was the victim of a deliberate political act by the junta to render her stateless when she returned from Vietnam to Thailand last week, » said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. adding that it was « not the first time », junta officials had « weaponised » Burmese passports.
“There is no doubt that what happened was a trap in an attempt to force Han Lay back to Myanmar, where she would have been immediately arrested, possibly mistreated in detention and imprisoned,” Robertson added.
The situation in Myanmar continues to deteriorate after the 2021 military coup. Human rights abuses remain rampant, rights groups say, and state executions have resumed as the conflict rages across the country.
Millions continue to resist the ruling junta led by Min Aung Hlaing, which has killed hundreds of pro-democracy protesters and locked up the country’s democratically elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.