11 July 2024

Myanmar’s former beauty queen and an anti-junta activist, Thaw Nandar Aung, aka “Han Lay”, who has been stranded in Thailand due to immigration difficulties, has finally been granted asylum in Canada.

Local and international media outlets, such as the BBC, cited sources saying  that she will be leaving Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi on September 27th, heading to Incheon first and then on to Toronto, Canada.

The 23-year-old has been stranded since September 21st, and attempts were reportedly made by Myanmar authorities to have her repatriated, but she was not forcibly sent back.

While no confirmation has been provided by the military administration in Myanmar as to whether her passport has been revoked, spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun had said that cooperation of neighbouring countries and Interpol has been requested by arresting “fugitives” with warrants issued for them.

“There are a lot of people like Han Lay who have managed to stay out of range. Many of them are high profile artists and celebrities who not only spoke out against the junta, but carried out protests and such,” said a retired high ranking immigration official.

“From what I’ve been told, many technically still have valid passports, but they could be cancelled at any time. They would be arrested immediately if they set foot in Myanmar, so they won’t be going back anytime soon.”

There are also many who did not choose to leave the country, but joined opposition forces instead.

Some, such as Lu Min and his spouse Eaindra Kyaw Zin, managed to avoid capture but had to return, with sources close to them claiming that their family members had been threatened in some way if they did not return.

They were arrested and have since been released and pardoned, amongst a swathe of prominent film industry figures, which includes the aforementioned couple and, perhaps one of the best known in Thailand, Paing Takhon.