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Actress Michelle Yeoh says she was barred from entering Myanmar

From Sarita Harilela, CNN
Actress Michelle Yeoh plays Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in an upcoming movie.
Actress Michelle Yeoh plays Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in an upcoming movie.
  • She plays opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in an upcoming biopic
  • Yeoh says immigration officials deported her without justification
  • She says she hopes to return soon
  • Suu Kyi has been trying to promote democracy in Myanmar for years

(CNN) -- Actress Michelle Yeoh confirmed Thursday that she had been denied entry to Myanmar.

Yeoh plays Myanmar opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in an upcoming movie. She had flown to the country on June 22 and was deported on arrival, she said.

"The immigration authorities treated me cordially but deported me upon arrival for no reason and without providing any justification," she said in a statement.

Yeoh, a Malaysian-born actress, is best known in Hollywood for her role in the James Bond film, "Tomorrow Never Dies" and in the Academy Award-winning "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

She plays Suu Kyi in director Luc Besson's upcoming biopic, "The Lady," about the Myanmar democracy activist and her husband, British academic Michael Aris.

Yeoh met Suu Kyi in person after the latter was released from house arrest last year.

"You feel a real sense of calm when you're with her," Yeoh told the Guardian newspaper in December after the meeting. "She's a very striking figure. She is so proud of her culture and the best way to show it is with dignity and elegance. She has a glow and an aura about her."

Suu Kyi repeatedly challenged Myanmar's long-time military junta and promoted democracy over the years. Her efforts helped her win the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, while making her a target of Myanmar's regime and leading to her decades-long detention.

Last November, Myanmar held its first elections in 20 years. The vote drew fire from critics who said it was aimed at creating a facade of democracy. The regime had refused to allow international monitors or journalists into Myanmar for the vote.

Members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party were among those who boycotted the vote, describing it as a sham.

But shortly afterward, on November 13, the Nobel laureate was released from house arrest -- having spent most of the past 20 years under house arrest or in prison.

In her statement Thursday, Yeoh said she was "shocked and terribly saddened" by the Myanmar government's decision to bar her entry into the country.

"I harbor no ill will resulting from this incident and continue to remain fond of Burma and the Burmese people," she said, referring to Myanmar by its other name. "I continue to cherish hopes to see this country continue its progress towards peace and democracy and to be able to return soon."