TOKYO, Japan - Myanmar's national soccer team's goalkeeper is to make an application for refugee status in Japan.
Pyae Lyan Aung says he is in fear for his life after making a three-finger salute in protest at the military coup in his country during a recent World Cup qualifier near Tokyo.
Aung, who refused to return home with his teammates last week, will file an application on Tuesday with the Osaka Regional Immigration Services Bureau, his lawyer said Sunday. The significance of applying on Tuesday is that it is the designatedUnited Nations' World Refugee Day.
Before his plans were made public, the 27-year-old soccer player visited a Buddhist temple in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, to pray for peace in his home country.
"I shed tears as I recalled my memories of my home country. I want to meet my family," he said.
"I prayed that peace will be realised as soon as possible."
"I want Japanese people to help Myanmar people trying to escape repression as much as they can," he added.
Pyae Lyan Aung came to public prominence late last month in the match between Japan and Myanmar in Chiba.
He raised three fingers of his right hand with "WE NEED JUSTICE" written on them in English while Myanmar's national anthem was played, according to Kyodo News.
He told immigration authorities at Kansai airport on Wednesday that he wanted to stay in Japan.
The Japanese Justice Ministry says Myanmar citizens seeking refugee status in the country can extend their stay as an emergency step.
Since the February military coup in Myanmar that ousted the democratically elected government led by civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who turned 76 on Saturday, she and other prominent politicians have been detained and hundreds of civilians have been killed by security forces, ANI reported.
As of Saturday, 870 people had been killed by the military junta since the coup, with around 5,000 others in detention, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights group that keeps track of political prisoners in Myanmar.