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Myanmar’s Miss Universe bet calls attention to situation back home

Thuzar Wint Lwin raised a banner that read “Pray for Myanmar” after she walked to the end of the runway

Myanmar’s candidate to the Miss Universe pageant called attention to the political crisis in her country during the pageant’s national costume competition on May 13 (May 14 in Manila).

Thuzar Wint Lwin raised a banner that read “Pray for Myanmar” after she walked to the end of the runway during the presentation of the national costume in Hollywood, Florida.

Thuzar emerged on the runway in a simple beaded dress that showcased traditional Burmese weaves after her original costume was lost in shipping.

This week, Myanmar security forces fired shots and arrested about 30 people at an anti-coup rally in the country’s second-biggest city.

Chaos erupted in Mandalay, a hotbed of anti-military sentiment, when plainclothes police emerged from vehicles minutes into a protest, firing guns and beating demonstrators who fell as hundreds fled, according to four witnesses.

Myanmar has been gripped by protests and deadly violence since the military seized power from an elected government on February 1, unleashing an outpouring of public anger and international condemnation of the junta’s lethal response.

Thuzar Wint Lwin, Miss Universe Myanmar candidate, on stage during the National Costume Show in Hollywood, Florida on May 13, 2021. (Photo courtesy of the Miss Universe Organization)

Many demonstrators back a National Unity Government, an anti-junta coalition that has declared itself Myanmar’s legitimate authority and pushed hard for international recognition and support.

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The State Department said on Wednesday that US officials had held conversations with the NUG where it outlined its inclusive vision for a diverse, unified, federal democracy.

With 783 people killed in the suppression of protests, according to an advocacy group, some supporters of the ousted government have sought military training with insurgents that have battled the military for decades in remote border regions.

The military ruled Myanmar, once known as Burma, from 1962 to 2011 before launching a phased transition to democracy that led to unprecedented economic and political reforms and modernisation under a quasi-civilian government.

But its intervention after only a decade has rekindled memories of oppressive rule and economic mismanagement that pro-democracy groups say people will not tolerate again.

The military said it seized power because its complaints of fraud in a November election won in a landslide by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party were not addressed by an election commission that deemed the vote fair.

The United States, European Union and Britain have imposed targeted sanctions on the generals and the military’s businesses, while activists have urged the United Nations Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar.

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