Philippines approves asylum request of detained Iranian beauty queen

Bahareh Zare Bahari, Iran's representative to the Miss Intercontinental pageant in 2018. (Courtesy:
Updated 08 November 2019

Philippines approves asylum request of detained Iranian beauty queen

  • Bahari was stopped at Manila airport last month due to an Interpol red notice
  • Says she fears for her life and anticipates death or prison if deported to Iran

MANILA: The Philippines has approved the asylum application of Former Miss Iran, Bahareh Zare Bahari, Justice Undersecretary and spokesperson Markk Perete said on Friday, almost a month after the beauty queen was arrested at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Bahari arrived in Manila from a two-week vacation in Dubai on October 18 but was barred from leaving the airport due to what authorities said was an International Police (Interpol) red notice.

"I can confirm that her [asylum] application has been approved as of Tuesday," Perete told Arab News.

He added that he had yet to verify if Bahari had been allowed to leave the airport and admitted into the Philippines, adding that "as of Tuesday evening, the BI [Bureau of Immigration] has started processing her papers pursuant to the ruling on her [asylum] application."

Iranian beauty queen Bahareh Zare Bahari in her cell at the Manila airport. (Credit: Baharah's Facebook account)

The Bureau of Immegration said last month that Bahari was intercepted at NAIA's terminal 3 following an Interpol red notice against her for an assault and battery case allegedly committed in Dagupan City in the Philippines.

Bahari denies any wrongdoing, saying the cases against her are fake. She has also said she would be killed or imprisoned if deported to Iran where the Tehran government is allegedly targeting her for supporting an opposition politician, violating traditional values by taking part in beauty pageants and speaking for women’s rights.

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

"If they (Philippines) deport me (back to ) Iran, (they will) at least give me 25 years in jail if they do not kill me," Bahari said in an interview with Arab News last month.

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.