Bangkok A Myanmar model who feared she would be arrested by the country’s military government if she was forced to return home from exile traveled to Canada, which she said granted her asylum.
Tho Nandar Aung, Also known as Han Lai, he departed on a flight from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport early Wednesday morning, according to Archaeon Kraythong, deputy commissioner of the Thai Immigration Bureau. He said he was not authorized to reveal her destination.
Tho Nandar Aung told Radio Free Asia, a station funded by the US government, on Tuesday that she was heading to Canada, having been granted political asylum there with the help of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Canadian embassy in Thailand.
“It all happened very quickly, and I only have a few pieces of clothing. So I will have to keep up with what they planned for me,” she said.
“I have spoken about Myanmar wherever I go. I have spoken to the media about my country while I was in Thailand. Since Canada is a safe place for me, I will have more opportunities to speak openly about this issue. And as you know, there is a large community of Myanmar in Canada, So I am sure that I will be able to continue the fight for Myanmar with their help.”
A phone call to the Canadian Embassy seeking comment was not immediately answered.
Tho Nandar Aung was stranded at Bangkok airport after being denied entry by Thai authorities when she arrived on September 21 from a short flight to Vietnam. She was living in Thailand but had to leave and re-enter to extend her stay.
While at the airport, she met UNHCR representatives in an attempt to avoid being sent back to Myanmar. People denied entry to Thailand are usually deported to their last point of departure, but the UN agency advised her that she would be detained in Vietnam and then returned to Myanmar. A spokesperson for the Thai Foreign Ministry said she was denied entry to Thailand “due to a problem with her travel document”.
Tho Nandar Aung denounced her country military rulers Last year of the Miss Grand International competition stage, which was held in Bangkok. She accused them of selfishness and abuse of their power to use lethal force to crush peaceful protests, and pleaded for international help for her country.
Myanmar’s military seized power in February 2021 from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and cracked down hard on widespread opposition to her rule. Critics, including other actors and celebrities, have been arrested on charges that carry a sentence of up to three years in prison until death.
In July, authorities executed four activists accused of involvement in terrorist activities, and United Nations experts described the violence in the country as a civil war.
Tho Nandar Aung said she was charged with sedition in absentia in September last year for speaking out against the military’s power grab at the contest and online. The charge carries a prison sentence of 20 years.
New York-based Human Rights Watch accused Myanmar’s military government of revoking or interfering with Thu Nandar Aung’s passport, making her “the victim of a deliberate political act by the military junta to render her stateless when she returned from Vietnam to Thailand”. She said this tactic was used against other critics as well.
“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 Phil Robertson, deputy director of the group in Asia. Email statement. “Fortunately, she received good advice to stay at the airport and wait for the kind of protection she needed. This was a victory for rights and refugee protection.”
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