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Friday, 25 October, 2002, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Beauty queen rejects pageant boycott
Amina Lawal with child
Amina Lawal faces execution by stoning
The newly-crowned Miss Wales is defying requests to boycott the Miss World contest in Nigeria on human rights grounds.

Labour MEP Glenys Kinnock has urged Michelle Bush, 22, to stay away in protest at the sentence of death by stoning on a woman convicted adultery by having a child outside marriage.

Amina Lawal, 30, is set to be executed after her August appeal was rejected by a Islamic regional Sharia court.

Michelle Bush, Miss Wales (Photo: Sporting Wales)
Michelle Bush wants to raise publicity
Eleven contestants in the 7 December pageant - including those from Switzerland, Belgium, Norway and Kenya - have either withdrawn from the contest or are threatening to, in protest at the sentence.

Mrs Kinnock is seeking talks with Miss Bush from Cardiff.

She wants the Miss Wales winner to join the growing boycott which is causing embarrassment for Miss World organisers.

"It would be great if we in Wales could follow this example and stand up to the tyrannical laws that would allow a mother to be stoned to death," she told BBC Radio Five Live.

"She would go down in history as someone who took a strong stand. Attending would be perceived as an endorsement of the situation."

'Bigger publicity'

Miss Lawal will be buried up to her neck and stoned to death if the execution goes ahead, as the authorities have said it will once her baby is weaned.

But Miss Bush said she was acting with Amnesty International support - a claim denied by the group.

The University of Glamorgan student chiropractor said any protest at the sentence - which has provoked outrage across the world - would be better made by attending the event.

And she drew a distinction between the religious Sharia law - which sentenced Miss Lawal and is controversially practiced in 10 Nigerian states - and Nigerian federal government law, which does not officially endorse the courts.


We are leaving the decision over whether to boycott up to each contestant, but we are happy to talk to Michelle about her position

Eleanor White, Amnesty International

"If we boycott now, that will be the end of it. But we still have a month to go - the hype will get bigger and there will be more publicity for this woman, which can only help," she said.

"I see going out there as a way of publicising what was going to happen to this woman.

"Federal law is trying to stop [these stonings] - they need to be seen to do something."

Her decision to protest in Nigeria instead of staying away is supported by Miss Sweden, Miss Canada and several other contestants.

Under pressure, Miss World organisers have agreed to hand their letters of protest to the Nigerian government.

But Mrs Kinnock said Miss Wales was being pressured by the Miss World organisation, which is "completely misrepresenting" Amnesty International's policy in an effort to keep the contest on track.

Glenys Kinnock
Glenys Kinnock wants Miss Wales to make a stand

"Nothing is unaffected by politics. Whilst we are debating, this woman faces the death sentence," she said.

Eleanor White, Wales Develpment Officer for Amnesty International, said that the organisation would not put pressure on contestants to boycott the pageant.

She added: "We are leaving the decision over whether to boycott up to each contestant, but we are happy to talk to Michelle about her position.

"We are working with Miss Scotland, Paula Murphy, who has decided to boycott the event, but Amnesty does not condone or condemn Michelle's decision to go to Nigeria.

"Whatever her decision, Amnesty's main focus is on doing as much as possible to highlight the case of Amina Lawal."

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 ON THIS STORY
Miss Wales, Michelle Bush
"I see going out there as a way of publicising what was going to happen to this woman"

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BACKGROUND
See also:

06 Sep 02 | Africa
19 Nov 01 | Africa
19 Aug 02 | Africa
26 Mar 02 | Africa
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