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Leeds urged to help Rohingya during ´odd´ Myanmar tour

24 April 2018 18:25

Amnesty International has urged Leeds United to play their part in helping to ease the human rights crisis in Myanmar during a post-season tour to the country.

The club will play two friendly matches against an MNL All Star Team and the Myanmar national team next month in Yangon and Mandalay, in a tour sponsored by AYA Bank.

The fixtures are set to be held despite the UK foreign office warning against "all but essential travel" to parts of the country, which is in the midst of a military crackdown.

The Championship club's fans have been advised to wait for further advice before making travel arrangements, while the Leeds United Supporters' Trust described the tour as "a strange and controversial choice" given the crisis in some areas.

The Rohingya population in the northern Rakhine province have been victims of what the United Nations has described as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

Myanmar's government, which does not recognise Rohingya citizenship, has denied targeting civilians in what it insists is a campaign against militants.

Amnesty International agrees Leeds' decision to visit is "odd" but has encouraged the club to put pressure on the government to end the conflict.

"It certainly seems like an odd choice of country to choose to tour," said Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK. "The last year has seen the human rights situation in Myanmar deteriorate dramatically.

"Far too often sporting events have been used as a cheap PR tool to 'sportswash' the stain of a country's human rights record.

"We're not going to tell Leeds United where they should and shouldn't visit, but if the tour does go ahead, the club should use its leverage to call for an end to the crackdown and raise with the Burmese authorities the plight of the hundreds of thousands of families who have been brutalised and forced to flee their homes."

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