Thai beauty queen accused of hateful comments against pro-government protesters
Weluree Ditsayabut won the Miss Universe Thailand beauty pageant Saturday
On Facebook, she reportedly called for red shirt supporters to be "executed"
Weluree has apologized for the "careless" remarks
She was only crowned Miss Universe Thailand on Saturday but Weluree “Fai” Ditsayabut has already become caught up in the political crisis engulfing her country, after comments were found on her Facebook page referring to pro-government demonstrators as “dirty,” “evil activists” that should “all be executed.”
“I am not neutral. I am on the side of His Majesty the King,” Weluree said in a now-deleted Facebook comment from November, when the country’s political crisis began, according to local news site Khaosod English.
Weluree reportedly said Thailand would be cleaner if the “dirty” red shirts left the country.
Pro-government supporters questioned Weluree’s pageant victory on popular online forums and social media sites. A Facebook page in protest of her winning the competition garnered thousands of “likes” – although some users criticized her appearance and claimed she won because of her connections, rather than raising concerns about her anti-red shirt comments.
The deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, Phil Robertson, condemned Weluree’s remarks on Twitter. “Perhaps (a) better title is Miss Politically Divided #Thailand? Shameful when beauty queens are calling for executions,” he wrote.
Weluree – an actress, talk show host, and English student – apologized for her remarks on May 19. “I was careless. I was young. I did it recklessly,” she said in an interview on Thailand’s Channel 3.
It is unclear whether Weluree’s crown will be passed to the competition’s runner-up and audience favorite Pimbongkod “Ellie” Chankaew.
The pageant organizers have not responded to the controversy, nor have the leaders of the pro-government movement.
The pageant controversy emerged at the height of a political crisis that has plagued Thailand for months, and prompted the military to seize power in a coup in May.
Since November, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee led anti-government protesters, who were mostly middle-class royalists, in calling for Yingluck’s government to be replaced with an unelected “people’s council.”
Competing rallies were held by pro-government supporters, many of whom came from the country’s rural north and northeast and view Yingluck’s ouster as a “judicial coup.”
Yingluck was found guilty of abuse of power and removed from office along with several cabinet ministers on May 7, and indicted by Thailand’s anti-graft body.
Monday marks a particularly sensitive day for the red shirt movement as the anniversary of a military crackdown that left more than 90 people dead and thousands injured in 2010.
CNN’s Karla Cripps and Tim Hume contributed to this report.