Iranian Beauty Queen Has Been Living in the Manila Airport For Two Weeks

Beauty pageant winner Bahareh Zare Bahari, who has been living in the Philippines on a student visa, was detained on her return to Manila from Dubai two weeks ago because Iran submitted a ‘red notice’ to Interpol seeking her arrest and deportation. She’s seeking asylum, claiming Iran is abusing the Interpol process to silence dissenters. Interpol won’t reveal information about arrest warrants without the permission of the country submitting the request.

Bahari has publicly supported Reza Pahlavi, the exiled son of the Shah who was deposed in the 1979 Iranian revolution. She “used an image of Pahlavi and the flag of the former Iranian monarchy as props during a recent competition” she says “to try to be the voice of my people.” That likely prompted Iran seeking the help of Interpol to arrest her and have her returned to the country (where she hasn’t lived in 5 years) in order to punish her dissent.

An Interpol red notice is supposed to be invalid if it was issued by a country from which the target is seeking asylum.

Earlier this year a teenager fleeing an arrangement marriage in Saudi Arabia was held in Bangkok while Thai authorities assisted in returning her at the request of Saudi authorities – until she took to twitter.

International law and systems of border control shouldn’t be used as a means to assist oppressive regimes in punishing their citizens for speaking out for freedom or criticizing the government. Imagine if everyone who escaped East Germany through the Berlin Wall were forcibly sent back. The idea of even needing a passport to travel abroad is a relatively new one. The possibility of citizen exit is one of the things that keeps the most oppressive regimes in line (and is why walls are often built to keep people in).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. While by no means supporting the repressive Iranian regime, I have very little sympathy for illiberal monarchists like this woman.

  2. @Helios and Belinda. I do not care much for Iranian politics. However, what do you think the Iranian regime will do to Miss Bahari if they send her back? Do you care?

  3. What a farce…left in limbo because the crackpots in Tehran put out an Interpol alert ( …just imagine if the situations were reversed and what they would say). Manila ( and Interpol) should tell them to F. OFF in no uncertain terms.
    Exactly the same thing happened in Thailand when Bahrain put out a notice on an Australian citizen. It was a complete crock, but the piss weak Thais threw him in prison, forcing the OZ PM to intervene.

  4. @Helios – illiberal? Actually Iranian monarchists are the least narrow-minded people I know.

    If mistakenly by “illiberal” you meant not liberal, please research and see how Iran was probably the most socially liberal country in the region until the Islamic Revolution. Politics were another matter, but now Iranians have neither social nor political freedoms.

  5. This is why Interpol and extradition treaties are a disaster. They are prone to abuse. Speaking of the U.S. literally people are extradited to the U.S. who have never stepped foot in the country. Some corrupt bureaucrat, government agent, politician just has to claim you did something and you can be brought to the U.S. and endure years of abuse. Hearings are often rubber stamps especially if countries want to curry favor.

  6. Entitled nutjob. I wonder if her previous assault charge involved abusing a Filipina maid? That all being said, I’d tap it in a heartbeat.

  7. Being sent back to Iran or having to spend two weeks in the worst major airport in Asia…? One is objectively much worse than the other but both are bad…

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