Han Lei: Myanmar beauty queen facing junta threat leaves Thailand for Canada

Bangkok, Thailand

The Myanmar beauty queen, who took refuge in Thailand after criticizing the ruling military junta in her home country, has left Bangkok for Canada, where she is expected to seek asylum, Thai immigration officials told CNN.

Han Lei, 23, garnered international attention with her emotional speech during the 2021 Miss Grand International Myanmar finals, when she held up a banner reading “Pray for Myanmar” to draw attention to the human rights atrocities committed by junta officials. . .

She received death threats after her performance and decided not to return home after the competition in Thailand.

However, she appeared to face the threat of deportation after returning to Thailand last Wednesday after a trip to Vietnam. She was stopped by officials at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport who said they found a problem with her passport and she has been in limbo ever since.

Archion Kraitong, deputy head of Thailand’s immigration bureau, told CNN on Wednesday that Han Lay left Bangkok on Tuesday evening. “Her final destination is Canada,” he said without giving specifics.

Han Lei previously told CNN that she is seeking political asylum in Canada despite wanting to stay in Thailand.

“Han Lei was the victim of a deliberate political act by the junta to strip her of her citizenship when she flew back to Thailand from Vietnam last week,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, adding that it was “not for the first time” junta officials “armed” Burmese passports.

“There is no doubt that what happened was a trap to try to get Han Lei to return to Myanmar, where she would face immediate arrest, possible ill-treatment while in custody and imprisonment,” Robertson added.

The situation in Myanmar continues to deteriorate after the 2021 military coup. Human rights abuses are still rampant, rights groups say, and state executions are back as the conflict rages across the country.

Millions of people continue to resist the ruling junta led by Min Aung Hlaing, which has killed hundreds of pro-democracy supporters and imprisoned the country’s democratically elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

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