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Miss Myanmar delivers passionate statement against military coup at Miss Universe pageant: "Our people are dying"

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Miss Myanmar used Sunday night's Miss Universe pageant to deliver a powerful message against the military junta, which has killed hundreds of demonstrators in the country since it seized power during a coup in February.

Wearing a traditional costume, Miss Universe Myanmar, Thuzar Wint Lwin, unveiled a scroll during the "national costume" segment reading "Pray for Myanmar." She ended up winning the category. 

"Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day," she said in a video message for the competition. "I would like to urge everyone to speak about Myanmar. As Miss Universe Myanmar since the coup, I have been speaking out as much as I can." 

Ma Thuzar Wint Lwin, Miss Universe Myanmar, holds the "Pray for Myanmar" sign during Miss Universe pageant's national costume show, in Hollywood
Ma Thuzar Wint Lwin, Miss Universe Myanmar, holds up the "Pray for Myanmar" sign during the Miss Universe pageant's national costume show, in Hollywood, Florida, May 13, 2021.  MISS UNIVERSE / Reuters

Earlier this month, the 22-year-old beauty queen said she has used her savings to help families of deceased pro-democracy protesters, calling for international help. 

"For the heroes that sacrificed their lives in the fight for the freedom of our people, we will not forget and we will not stop," she wrote on Instagram. "With the strength and motivation you have given us we will fight for our democracy."

At least 790 people have been killed by security forces since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group. It says over 5,000 people have been arrested, with some 4,000 still detained - including several celebrities.

Miss Myanmar was far from the only contestant to use the annual pageant, which took place at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, for protest. 

Also during the "national costume" segment, Miss Universe Singapore, Bernadette Belle Ong, wore an outfit featuring the colors of her nation's flag — and the message "Stop Asian Hate" on the back.

"What is this platform for if I can't use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence!" she wrote on Instagram. "Thank you #MissUniverse for giving me this opportunity!!!"

Miss Universe Uruguay, Lola de los Santos, who has long been an advocate for the LGBTQ community, wore a rainbow outfit with the message, "No more hate, violence, rejection, discrimination."

Miss Mexico, Andrea Meza, ultimately took home the crown. 

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