Miss Universe Myanmar, Thuzar Wint Lwin, won the national costume contest at Miss Universe 2020 on Sunday May 16, using the pageant to call on the world to speak out against the coup in her country.
The 22-year-old held up a sign “Pray for Myanmar” as she was walking the stage wearing a national dress.
“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said in a video for the competition, which was held in Hollywood, Florida. “I would like to urge everyone to speak about Myanmar. As Miss Universe Myanmar since the coup, I have been speaking out as much as I can,” she said.
“They are killing our people like animals,” she told The New York Times. “Where is humanity? We are helpless here.”
Myanmar has seen mass demonstrations against the military coup on Feb. 1, when the military seized power, detained the country’s elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and members of her party, and imposed a year-long state of emergency.
The airline had lost the suitcase that carried all her outfits, including the national costume she was supposed to wear during the national costume contest.
However, she managed to borrow an outfit from people from Myanmar who lived in the US.
Although she did not make it to the final round, she won Best National Costume for her outfit, titled “Fearless Empress”, representing the ethnic Chin people from northwestern Myanmar.
Thuzar Wint Lwin says does not believe she is likely to return to her country safely after speaking out against the military coup in public and that she does not know where to go next.
In the early days of the pro-democracy protests, she joined the demonstrations, handing out water bottles to protesters and donating her savings to families whose loved ones had been killed, the New York Times reported.
She also spoke out against the junta on Facebook. More than 790 people have been killed as part of the military crackdown on protesters since February, Reuters reported, citing an activist group.
More than 5,000 people have been arrested, about 4,000 still detained, including several celebrities, according to the group.