The Thai government must protect asylum seekers from Myanmar Ms. Han Lay must be released from detention, and not deported to face Min Aung Hlaing’s persecution: The Thai government must protect asylum seekers from Myanmar
Ms. Han Lay (or Ms. Thaw Nandar Aung), a Miss Grand International beauty pageant, has been detained at the Suvarnabhumi airport since 22 September 2022 due to a ban on her to re-entry to Thailand imposed by Thai authority after she left the country temporarily to renew her visa. The Immigration Bureau’s officer under the Royal Thai Police has been holding her since then.
The authority initially claimed the denial of her re-entry was due to passport invalidity and the Interpol’s Red Notice, which lists her as a wanted person; however, Interpol has now denied the Thai police’s claims. It has also been reported that the Thai authority assisted and allowed officials of Myanmar’s coup leader Min Aung Hlaing to enter the airport and have access to Ms. Han Lay without her consent.
The Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF), a human rights organization registered with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has discovered that the Thai authority has barred the re-entry to Thailand of Ms. Han Lay and held her in custody at the airport despite her having fled from persecution by Min Aung Hlaing and having lived legally in Thailand for over a year.
The Thai authority has even facilitated Min Aung Hlaing’s officers’ access to Ms. Han Lay without her consent, prompting her to seek protection from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). However, as of this 26 September, she still cannot leave the Suvarnabhumi airport. The treatment of the Thai authority against Ms. Han Lay not only deprived her rights and freedoms, but also violates international law concerning refugee.
It demonstrates how Thailand brazenly supports Min Aung Hlaing in contrary to the international community’s demand that Min Aung Hlaing stop the murder and suppression of rights and freedoms of the people in Myanmar, restore democracy and unconditionally release all political prisoners and opponents.
Based on the above reasons, CrCF has the following demands for the Thai government;
1. The Immigration Bureau under the Royal Thai Police (RTP) must publicly respond to the reports that they had claimed Ms. Han Lay was listed in Interpol’s Red Notice and whether the deprivation of her liberty was prompted by the Interpol’s Red Notice. If this is not true, the RTP must seriously penalize the concerned officials.
2. Thailand must strictly adhere to international customary law concerning non-refoulement and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by refusing to deport Ms. Han Lay to Min Aung Hlaing, as she would have likely been subjected to persecution and torture. It has been laid bare that pro-democracy activists in Myanmar face, among others, unfair trials, torture, and even execution on the instructions of Min Aung Hlaing. It is therefore deemed plausible that she could be subjected to an act of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, if she gets deported there.
3. Thailand must immediately cease assisting, permitting, or facilitating the harassment and intimidation of Ms. Han Lay by officials, informants or other individuals serving Min Aung Hlaing.
4. Thailand should coordinate and help the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to ensure Ms. Han Lay can seek asylum in Thailand at least temporarily and be protected from any persecution, harassment and intimidation by Min Aung Hlaing. An effort should also be made to ensure Ms. Han Lay can be resettled in a third country if she wishes to do so.
5. Thailand should respect the pledge made by Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha to international community during the Leaders’ Summit on Global Refugees in New York City in September 2016 and the cabinet resolution on 17 January 2017 in which Thailand promise to act in compliance with international standards on refugee including the implementation of the screening mechanism and the treatment of refugees incompliance with the international standards. Such National Screening Mechanism should be promptly used with any asylum seekers who enter Thailand, particularly those who have fled from Min Aung Hlaing’s persecution in Myanmar.
CrCF fervently hopes that the Thai government and responsible authorities respond to our demands and ensure that Thailand will be an example of a country committed to enhancing and promoting human rights and democracy.
Bangkok, 27 September 2022