Osaka [Japan], June 23 (ANI): Myanmar national soccer goalkeeper Pyae Lyan Aung applied for refugee status in Japan on Tuesday after he expressed fear for his life for making a three-finger salute in protest at the military coup in his country during a recent World Cup qualifier near Tokyo, according to his lawyer.
Pyae Lyan Aung, who refused to return home with his teammates last week, submitted an application with the Osaka Regional Immigration Services Bureau, Kyodo News reported citing his lawyer's statement.
The immigration authority in Osaka is expected to promptly process his application as he will most likely face persecution by the military if he returns to his home country.
"I am relieved. I hope I will be granted refugee status," he told reporters.
The footballer has also filed a request to switch his visa status to a foreigner who is allowed to engage in "designated activities," which permits him to stay and work in the country for six months.
The lawyer said multiple companies have already made contact, telling him they are interested in hiring him, Kyodo News reported.
"What I want to do most is playing soccer as a professional. It would be difficult for me to do other (short-term) jobs because of language barriers," Pyae Lyan Aung said.
At the match between Japan and Myanmar in Chiba in late May, he raised three fingers of his right hand with "WE NEED JUSTICE" written on them in English while Myanmar's national anthem was played.
Meanwhile, the Justice Ministry has said it will allow Myanmar residents who wish to remain in Japan to extend their stays as an emergency move. The measure also covers people from Myanmar seeking refugee status in Japan.
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.
As of Tuesday, 875 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. (ANI)