A beauty queen who has spoken out against Myanmar’s military rulers was stuck at Thailand’s international airport for a third day on Friday hoping to be cleared to enter, as activists and her employer urged authorities not to send her back home.
Han Ley, who gained international attention last year for her stirring speech about the army’s deadly crackdown on anti-junta protests in her native Myanmar, has been denied entry by Thai authorities despite being in hiding in Thailand for the past year.
The 23-year-old model, whose real name is Thaw Nandar Aung, was stopped at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Wednesday while returning from a short visit to Vietnam. The immigration office said she used invalid travel documents.
The event management team working with Han Lay said they hoped she would be able to return to Thailand.
“The only thing we want is for her not to go back to Myanmar because if she does, we don’t know what will happen to her,” said the official, who declined to be identified because she is not authorized to speak. with the media.
When asked about Han Lay’s case on Friday, Thai Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Thani Sangrat said authorities “have not arrested her and have no plans to send her anywhere at this stage.”
Thailand’s tourism hub has often been embroiled in a tug-of-war between countries seeking the return of citizens and activists who say the people will face persecution if sent home.
They include an Australian footballer arrested in Thailand in 2018 at the request of Bahrain for criticizing its monarchy, and an 18-year-old Saudi woman stuck at Bangkok airport after running away from her family.
A spokesman for the Myanmar junta could not be reached for comment on the Khan Lai case.
Interpol said in an email to Reuters on Friday that “there was no red notice for this individual” after Han Lei and her manager said she was the subject of the organization’s highest alert level for a person.
In her Facebook post, Han Lay said Myanmar police were at the Bangkok airport and tried to meet her, but she refused and contacted the UN refugee agency.
Thai police referred Reuters to the immigration office on the matter.
UNHCR said its policy is not to confirm individual cases.
In a tweet, Human Rights Watch’s Phil Robertson said Thai authorities should provide Han Lay with protection and “under no circumstances” return her to Myanmar.
#Thailandthe government should allow #Myanmar human rights defender and pro-democracy activist Han Lai Tow Nandar Aung to receive refugee protection and go to a country where she will be safe. Under no circumstances can it be sent back # Burma where arrest and prison awaits her! #WhatsHappeninginMyanmar pic.twitter.com/mFpSPYC4eG
— Phil Robertson (@Reaproy) September 23, 2022