An Iranian beauty queen who used an image of Reza Pahlavi, the exiled son of the former Shah of Iran, as well as the flag of the former Iranian monarchy during a competition has been stuck in Manila’s international airport for two weeks, desperate to gain asylum out of fear that she will be killed if she is sent back to Iran.
— Nazanin Boniadi (@NazaninBoniadi) October 29, 2019
CNN reports that Bahareh Zare Bahari, who competed in the recent Miss Intercontinental pageant in Manila and arrived back from Dubai roughly two weeks ago, was targeted by Interpol to be arrested because of a red notice, as claimed by the Philippines Immigration Department. But the Department would not reveal which country requested the notice, which Bahari suspects came from Iran.
Human Rights Watch deputy director Phil Robertson noted “there have been repeated incidents where rights repressing states in the Middle East have abused the (Interpol) process to try to force the return of dissidents overseas,” adding that Human Rights Watch was worried about the “mysterious” notice, “especially since under Interpol rules a red notice is null and void if the person named in the notice is found to be a refugee fleeing from the state that issued it.”
Bahari said an immigration official told her Iran requested a notice in 2018. She added, “I have been living here since 2014 and I’ve not gone back to Iran. I explained to them many times, how can I have a criminal case in Iran when I’ve been living here?”
Bahari suspects that she is being targeted for her actions at the beauty pageant, saying they were “to try and be the voice of my people,” as well as her actions as a teacher in Iran. She stated she wanted Iranian girls to know “they are not things, they are not toys, they are human and they have same right as boys.”
Philippines immigration authorities claim Bahari was accused of assault and battery in Dagupan, but would not confirm if that was the reason for the red notice. Bahari called the assault and battery allegations “a big lie” and created in order to force her to return to Iran.
Earlier this month, Reza Pahlavi told The National that the Iranian people will not support Tehran’s confrontational stance toward the U.S. and the Middle East, saying:
This regime wants war, especially now that they are weakened and are cornered. They will use any excuse to start a war to maintain their power. The regime will not achieve their objective if the people of Iran stand up and refuse to participate. My compatriots in the armed forces must realize that the regime is using them, not to defend our country as a military should, but to defend the regime and its wealth and its power. Therefore, the impetus is on the people to deny the regime the support it seeks in this manufactured conflict.
He continued, “This regime wants war, the people do not. The people of Iran want to remove this oppressive regime and rebuild our country as a peaceful, secular democracy. They feel the pressure from my compatriots who are building the movement to overthrow them and reestablish a secular democracy. In order to counter the force of freedom, they want to create distraction and wage war.”