Leeds’ tour to Myanmar next month has been questioned by Amnesty International due to the country’s “brutal” human rights record.
The Sky Bet Championship club are planning a pre-season tour of Myanmar despite Foreign Office travel warnings being in place for various parts of the south-east Asian country.
“It certainly seems like an odd choice of country to choose to tour,” said Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen.
“The last year has seen the human rights situation in Myanmar deteriorate dramatically.
“Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled crimes against humanity in Rakhine State to neighbouring Bangladesh; those who remain continue to live under a system amounting to apartheid.
“The Myanmar authorities have continued the brutal crackdown despite a global outcry.
“Far too often sporting events have been used as a cheap PR tool to ‘sportswash’ the stain of a country’s human rights record.”
Leeds are scheduled to play an All-Star XI in Yangon on May 9 and then Myanmar’s national team in Mandalay on May 11.
Both cities fall outside areas which the Foreign Office has advised should be avoided.
“We’re not going to tell Leeds United where they should and shouldn’t visit,” Allen added.
“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.”
A Leeds spokesman told Press Association Sport that the club is liaising with the Foreign Office and will avoid any areas of conflict.
Further advice and travel details will be released for Leeds supporters, the club said.
Two companies owned by Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani, Aser and Eleven Sports, have business partnerships in the region and there are expected to be commercial benefits from the tour.
Leeds will be holding football clinics with the Myanmar Football Federation Academies in Yangon and Mandalay.
Violent clashes between Myanmar’s government troops and militants are on-going in several areas of the country.
Myanmar’s governing regime has been accused of ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, while insurgent attacks on police and army bases last summer killed 70 people.
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