Hollywood actress Michelle Yeoh was deported from Burma Wednesday after arriving on a flight to the country’s former capital Rangoon, according to officials.
Yeoh, 48, will play Burmese pro-democracy leader and Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in an upcoming film.
Nyan Win, spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition party, confirmed that Yeoh had been deported.
“This regrettable action should not have been taken,” he told RFA.
A Burmese official told Reuters that the actress had been banned from entering the country.
"She was deported on the same day because she is on a blacklist,” said the immigration official, who had asked to remain anonymous because she was not authorized to speak to the media.
Officials declined to explain why Yeoh had been blacklisted.
Journalists and critics of Burma's repressive government are often refused visas to the country.
In December 2010, the Malaysian-born Yeoh traveled to Burma to meet with Suu Kyi at her home in Rangoon. She had already started filming scenes portraying Suu Kyi for a biopic entitled “The Lady.”
The film takes its title from the nickname given to Suu Kyi by the Burmese people, who once feared reprisals from the government if they spoke her name in public.
According to Nyan Win, Yeoh showed Suu Kyi some still shots from the movie, which was filmed in neighboring Thailand.
French director Luc Besson, known for films such as 1994’s “The Professional,” oversaw the movie, which focuses on the love story between Suu Kyi and her late husband Michael Aris.
The film is expected to be released later this year.
Yeoh, 48, first shot to fame after starring in the 1997 James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies” alongside Pierce Brosnan. After starring in 2000 in director Ang Lee’s Chinese-language martial arts epic, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” the former Miss Malaysia was nominated for a BAFTA. She also starred in “Memoirs of a Geisha,” based on the bestselling novel by Arthur Golden.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of Burmese independence leader General Aung San, had spent 15 of the last 21 years under house arrest. She was released by the ruling generals on Nov. 13 just after elections which were heavily criticized as a sham by the local opposition and Western nations.
In 1990 Suu Kyi’s NLD party won a political election by a landslide, but Burma’s military rulers never recognized the election.
Last year’s vote was held with Suu Kyi in detention and her party disbanded for refusing to take part in an election it said was unfair. The NLD leader had urged supporters to boycott the poll.
Suu Kyi, who turned 66 this month, recently addressed the U.S. Congress, pushing for the release of some 2,000 political prisoners and for the U.N. to take further action on the human rights abuses in her country.
Sources have said that foreigners who have held meetings with Suu Kyi in Burma have been blacklisted from returning to the country, with the exception of foreign officials and other dignitaries, whose visa requests are decided case by case.
Reported by Tin Aung Khine for RFA’s Burmese service. Translated by Khin Maung Soe. Written in English by Lauren Littleton.