After being stranded for three weeks at Manila airport, Iranian beauty queen Bahareh Zare Bahari has finally been granted political asylum by the government of the Philippines, an official said on Nov. 8.
“She will be getting out of the airport and coming into Philippine territory,” Philippine Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete told reporters, declining to discuss the details citing confidentiality rules in the United Nations refugee convention.
The Philippine justice department admitted Bahari as a refugee on Nov. 6 and released the official document on Nov. 8, the Guardian reported.
The justice department ordered her to report to the Bureau of Immigration to obtain her visa and registration certificate.
“If the refugee has no passport or valid passport, visa stamping is not required,” the document said. The document also recommends that a travel document be issued and work permit requirements be waived, according to The Guardian.
Bahari left Iran in 2014 to study dentistry in the Philippines and had been residing there since.
But when she came back to the Philippines from a trip to Dubai on Oct. 17, she was denied entry into the country due to an Iranian warrant for her arrest.
According to The Guardian, international police agency Interpol had issued a worldwide request to arrest Bahari, known as a “red notice.”
But Bahari believes the Iranian regime requested the red notice to try and silence her political voice.
When she represented Iran at the Miss Intercontinental beauty pageant in Manila last year, she displayed public support for the former crown prince of Iran, Reza Pahlavi.
She used an image of Pahlavi and the flag of the former Iranian monarchy during the competition on stage to “try and be the voice” of her people.
“My wish is that my country will reach to freedom and equality,” Bahari said in her profile at the Miss Intercontinental pageant website.
She told CNN that she may be targeted by the Iranian authorities due to her activism in Iran. She said that she became a teacher there because she wanted girls to learn “they are not things, they are not toys, they are human and they have the same rights as boys.”
According to Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s regional director for East and Southeast Asia, Bahari said she could face “arrest, torture, and other ill-treatment, and unfair trial and imprisonment” if she is sent back to Iran. He described her as “a vocal critic of the Iranian authorities and a public opponent of forced veiling.”