Han Lai: Miss Myanmar who denounced the military junta seeks asylum in Canada

Miss Myanmar, who publicly criticized her country’s military junta, was then stranded at Bangkok airport, arrived in Canada on Wednesday, where she is seeking asylum.

Reuters reports that Tho Nandar Aung, also known as Han Lai, has landed in Toronto and said she will live in Prince Edward Island, a province off the Atlantic coast of Canada. It was not clear what her condition was, but Han Lai, 23, Tell Radio Free Asia was given permission to stay with the help of Canadian officials and the United Nations refugee agency.

“Everything happened very quickly, and I only have a few pieces of clothing,” she told the broadcaster before leaving for Canada. But she said, “I have spoken about Myanmar wherever I go. Since Canada is a safe place for me, I will have more opportunities to speak frankly on this issue.”

Han Lai first gained global attention last year when she used her time on stage to speak out against Myanmar’s military rulers at the Miss Grand International competition in Thailand.

At that time, the Military Council, known as the Tatmadaw, had just seized power and anti-military protests were raging. The army and police confronted the demonstrators with deadly force. On a particularly bloody day, March 27, security forces More than 160 protesters were killed.

How Myanmar’s army terrorized its people

On the same day, Han Lai was on stage in Bangkok in a traditional white dress as one of the 20 finalists in the competition.

“Today in my country, Myanmar, while I will be on this podium, a lot of people are dying; more than 100 people have died today,” she told the audience, wiping away tears. “I am deeply sorry for all the people who lost their lives.”

She added: “Every citizen in the world wants the prosperity of his country and a peaceful environment.” “In doing so, the leaders involved must not use their own strength and selfishness.”

The letter put Han Lai in the spotlight and also drew Conviction and threats She said on social media. After the contest, she stayed in Thailand to avoid the prospect of arrest in her home country, where thousands have been injured or killed since the military seized power. There are thousands more in prisonAnd in July, the Military Council Four pro-democracy activists executedAmong them are two of the most prominent leaders of the resistance.

But on September 21, after a short flight to Vietnam, Han Lai was denied entry at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. Thai officials said her Myanmar-issued travel documents were invalid, Reuters reported. She wrote on Facebook the next day that Myanmar police officials were also at the airport and tried to contact her.

As the world progresses, Myanmar faces a growing and hidden toll

“I will refuse to meet with Myanmar police using my human right,” she wrote, adding that she had sought help from Thai authorities and the United Nations.

According to Human Rights Watch, the move was a “deliberate political act by the military council to render her stateless.”

“There is no doubt that what happened was a trap to try to force Han Lai back to Myanmar, where she would have faced immediate arrest, potentially ill-treatment in detention, and imprisonment,” said the group’s deputy director for Asia, Phil Robertson. Wednesday statement.

He said governments should “be wary” of attempts by the Myanmar military junta to use “similar tactics against defectors abroad traveling with Myanmar passports in the future”.

“This is not the first time that repressive Burmese military dictatorships have sought to use their control of Myanmar passports as a weapon against the rights of their people to travel internationally,” Robertson said.

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