Iranian beauty queen seeks asylum in Philippines

Bahareh Zare Bahari, Iran's representative to the Miss Intercontinental pageant in 2018. (Credit: Baharaeh's Facebook account)
Updated 21 October 2019

Iranian beauty queen seeks asylum in Philippines

  • Bahareh Zare Bahari has been detained at Manila airport on the basis of an Interpol “red notice” on a charge of assault

MANILA/AMMAN: An Iranian beauty queen is seeking asylum in the Philippines because she fears for her life in Tehran.

Bahareh Zare Bahari, who was Iran's entry at the Miss Intercontinental pageant in 2018, is in the custody of the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration after she was intercepted at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport last week.

The bureau said she was barred from entering the Philippines because of an Interpol red notice due to an assault and battery case filed against her by a fellow Iranian. The incident is alleged to have happened in the Philippines. 




Bahareh Zare Bahari, Iran's representative to the Miss Intercontinental pageant in 2018. (Credit: Baharaeh's Facebook account)

Bahari denies any wrongdoing, saying the case against her was fake. She added that Tehran was targeting her for supporting an opposition politician, violating traditional values by taking part in beauty pageants and speaking for women’s rights.

In January she appeared at a pageant carrying a picture of Reza Pahlavi, an Iranian opposition leader and founder of the National Council of Iran.

“I used his photo in a beauty pageant and they are angry with me,” Bahari told Arab News during a phone interview. “If they (Philippines) deport me, they (Iran) will give me at least 25 years in jail, if they do not kill me.”

Bahari said she had travelled to the Philippines after a two-week vacation to Dubai, where she did not encounter any problems with immigration authorities. She was surprised when she was intercepted at the airport in Manila and informed that she was on an Interpol list.




Bahareh Zare Bahari, carrying the photo of Iranian opposition leader Reza Pahlavi during a beauty contest at Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on Jan. 28, 2019. (Supplied photo)

Her lawyer had checked all records in the Philippines and with Interpol but there was no record against her, she added.

The beauty queen denied committing any crimes in Iran, or in the Philippines where she has been studying dentistry since 2014.

Media reports said Bahari was due to be deported to Iran on Monday but a Department of Justice official, Mark Perete, said she remained in the bureau’s custody and “could not be sent back to Iran because she has filed an application for asylum.”

The department would resolve her asylum application “in due time," he added.


Cambodia to ban elephant rides at Angkor temples

Updated 15 November 2019

Cambodia to ban elephant rides at Angkor temples

  • The Angkor archaeological complex in northern Siem Reap attracts the bulk of the kingdom’s tourists
  • Apsara authority plans to end the elephant rides by 2020
PHNOM PENH: Cambodia will ban all elephant rides at the country’s famed Angkor temple park by early next year, an official said Friday, a rare win for conservationists who have long decried the popular practice as cruel.
The Angkor archaeological complex in northern Siem Reap attracts the bulk of the kingdom’s foreign tourists — which topped six million in 2018 — and many opt for elephants rides around the ancient temples.
But these rides “will end by the start of 2020,” said Long Kosal, a spokesman with the Apsara Authority, which manages the park.
“Using elephants for business is not appropriate anymore,” he told AFP, adding that some of the animals were “already old.”
So far, five of the 14 working elephants have been transferred to a community forest about 40 kilometers (25 miles) away from the temples.
“They will live out their natural lives there,” Kosal said.
The company that owns the elephants will continue to look after them, he added.
Cambodia has long come under fire from animal rights groups for ubiquitous elephant rides on offer for tourists, also seen in neighboring Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
The elephants are broken in during training and rights groups have accused handlers of overworking them.
In 2016, a female elephant died by the roadside after carrying tourists around the Angkor Wat temple complex in severely hot weather.
The animal had been working for around 45 minutes before she collapsed.