Thailand denies entry to model who denounced Burma’s junta in pageant speech

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A Burmese model who fled to Thailand after speaking out against a military coup in her homeland has been barred from returning to Bangkok, Thai authorities said on Thursday, following what her manager called a opinion of Interpol.

Han Lay, who caught international attention last year with an emotional speech at a beauty pageant calling for urgent help for the people of Myanmar during a military crackdown, did not have a valid visa to enter Thailand, the immigration department said.

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

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

He said Han Lay was arrested upon arrival because she was the subject of an Interpol notice.

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

Myanmar has been in crisis since a coup last February sparked protests that the military put down with lethal force and thousands of arrests.

Since taking power, the junta led by Min Aung Hlaing has embarked on a bloody crackdown on any opposition to his power.

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

The military has been accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes by the United States, the United Nations and other international bodies as it tries to exert control over the people, who continue to lead a campaign of mass resistance.

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

Han Lay was a contestant for the Miss Grand International when videos went viral on social media of her fighting 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 refused entry.

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