11 July 2024

Miss Grand Myanmar 2020 Han Lay, says Myanmar police attached to their embassy in Bangkok tried to gain access to her, but she rejected their demand and, sought help from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ representation in Bangkok, for fear that she might be forced back to Vietnam and then deported to her home country.

Han Lay, who arrived at Suvarnabhumi International Airport from Vietnam on Thursday, told Thai PBS that she was refused entry to Thailand by immigration officials, who told her that she there was a problem with her passport and that her name is on Interpol’s red list, after the military junta in Myanmar informed Interpol that her passport had gone missing in Vietnam.

She said Thai immigration officials assured her that they would be with her throughout her meeting with the Myanmar authorities, if she allowed them to see her. She said she told the officials that she didn’t want to see them, insisting that it was her right to do so.

Han Lay said that, normally, a tourist who leaves Thailand and then returns on a valid visa would have the right to have their visa extended for a certain period.

In her case, she said that she had been in Thailand for more than a year and she went to Vietnam this week for three days before returning to Bangkok on Thursday, to have her visa extended, adding that she had experienced no problem with her passport while in Vietnam and that the Vietnamese immigration officials did not notify her that she there was a problem.

She also said that, after being refused entry to Thailand on Thursday, a flight had been arranged for her to be sent back to Vietnam. She added that she almost took the flight back to Vietnam, but consulted the UNHCR first and was advised not to go due to the risk that she might be sent back to Myanmar if she was unable to enter Vietnam due to her passport problem.

She disclosed that she has asked the UNHCR for refuge in a third country, but declined to elaborate.

Han Lay took part in the Miss Grand International 2020 pageant in Bangkok last year, during which she protested against the military government in Myanmar, which subsequently issued a warrant for her arrest.

Meanwhile, the Thai Foreign Ministry said that Han Lay is not under arrest in Thailand, but she has been denied entry because of her passport problem.

Advisor to Human Rights Watch in Thailand, Sunai Phasuk, said that Thai officials have promised not to send Han Lay back to her home country, but will allow her to travel to a third country.

He cited the case of a Saudi woman, who was held by immigration officials at Suvarnabhumi airport about three years ago, also because of a passport problem with the Saudi government.

The woman, who then sought political refuge in a third country, finally went to Canada, said Sunai.