Beauty queen takes Myanmar’s democratic fight to international stage

Myanmar model Han Lay did not win the Miss Grand International beauty pageant, but she’ll be remembered as one of its most impassioned contestants.

The 22-year-old made heads turn during an emotive speech where she pleaded for “urgent international help” for her country, the same day 141 demonstrators were killed in a crackdown by military rulers she said were selfish and abusing their power.

She said her compatriots in an anti-coup movement would not back away from a struggle that has so far claimed close to 550 lives in the two months since the generals overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government.

She said her speech triggered deep sorrow she has been unable to contain. She said she was unable to focus on the competition and felt guilt about people suffering back home.

The competition’s founder said her decision to speak out against the junta means she will have to stay overseas as she faces jail if she returns home.

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