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Thailand denies entry to model who denounced Myanmar junta in runway speech

BANGKOK (Reuters) – A Myanmar model who took refuge in Thailand after speaking out against a military coup in her homeland has been prevented from returning to Bangkok, Thai authorities said on Thursday, over what her manager said was an Interpol notice.

Han Lay, who captured international attention last year with a moving speech at a beauty pageant calling for urgent help for the people of Myanmar during the 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 out of Thailand, the department said in a statement.

Naut 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 that Han Lay was detained upon arrival because she was the subject of an Interpol notice.

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

Myanmar has been in crisis since a coup in February last year sparked protests that the military repressed with deadly force and thousands of arrests.

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

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 tip.

Han Lay was a Miss Grand International contestant when videos went viral on social media of her fighting back tears on stage while speaking about the bloodshed in Myanmar, on a day when more than 140 protesters were killed.

In an interview with Reuters last year, he said his people “will never give up.”

Han Lay’s Instagram posts indicate that he has spent most of the past year in Thailand. He was returning to the country on a flight from Vietnam when he was denied entry.

(Reporting by Jiraporn Kuhakan, Poppy McPherson and Reuters staff; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Ed Davies)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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