Conflicts & War

Myanmar goalie refuses to leave Japan, will apply for asylum

Tokyo, Jun 17 (EFE).- Myanmar soccer team’s goalkeeper Pyae Lyan Aung, who gave the three-finger salute at a game, has refused to board a plane home from Japan with his teammates and will apply for political asylum in the country, according to national broadcaster NHK on Thursday.

“We need justice” could be read on his three raised fingers when the Myanmar national anthem played before a qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup against Japan on May 28 in Chiba.

The 27-year-old athlete decided to stay on Japanese soil and apply for refugee status, he told the Japanese media on Wednesday night, with the rest of the team returning to Myanmar.

Pyae Lyan Aung underlined the fear of the military crackdown shaking his country in an interview with NHK earlier this month, and said he gave the three-finger salute at the game because he wanted it to be known that the players are also against the military coup on Feb. 1.

The footballer added that he would like “peace to return” to his homeland, but for now joins the 35,000-strong Myanmar community in Japan. In addition, some 2,500 have applied for asylum as refugees in the wake of the coup.

The Myanmar community residing in the archipelago has also demonstrated on various occasions against the military coup and the Japanese government recently approved the extension of their visas.

Japan approves few refugee status applications. Despite the fact that more than 3,936 foreigners applied, only 47 were granted in 2020, according to data from the Ministry of Justice.

The goalkeeper’s protest gesture joins that of his compatriot and Olympic swimmer Win Htet Oo, who recently decided not to attend the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in rejection of the military coup.

Myanmar’s military overthrew the democratic government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and she has been held in detention since.

The civil disobedience movement against the military junta and the protests that have taken place throughout the country have been brutally repressed by the security forces.

At least 865 people have been killed since the coup, with over 4,900 others in detention, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. EFE


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