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Miss Grand International Myanmar Han Lay detained in Bangkok

Miss Grand International Myanmar Han Lay detained in Bangkok

Thai authorities detained Burmese beauty queen Han Lay, real name Thaw Nandar Aung, at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport after she refused to board a return flight to Vietnam, where she was on holiday. The 23-year-old had been living in Thailand since she spoke out against the February 2021 coup in her home country of Burma.

“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.” Han Lay said.

“I did not commit any crimes in Burma. 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 Burma,” she added.

Han Lay was crowned Miss Grand International 2020 in Thailand one month after the 2021 coup. The beauty pageant had been delayed by one year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Han Lay is an outspoken critic of Burma’s junta and has requested several times for the international community to assist Burma in restoring democracy. If Han Lay were to be forcibly repatriated to Burma she could face charges of sedition under Section 124/1 of the Penal Code. Burma’s junta executed four democracy activists last July.

UNCHR refuses to comment on its cases. Thai immigration police have yet to comment.