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British soccer team, Leeds United FC, is under fire after announcing Tuesday their plans to tour Myanmar despite the mounting allegations of human rights abuses and an "ethnic cleansing" in the country.

Foreign Office guidance warns against all but essential travel to several parts of Burma but Leeds are to contest friendlies outside the most volatile zones during a commercial tour sponsored by AYA Bank.

The United Nations and rights groups say a Myanmar military operation in the country's northwest in August has sent almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh.

'I am aware of the serious issues within the country, but I also know that it is a handsome place filled with incredibly warm and welcoming people.

Former English champions Leeds are scheduled to play the Myanmar national team on May 9 and will take on the National League's all-stars in a second friendly two days later. I sincerely hope you will reconsider your post-season tour'.

"We're not going to tell Leeds United where they should and shouldn't visit", Allen added.

It all comes across as overly altruistic from Radrizzani, but surely simply by co-operating with the Myanmar authorities the club is turning a blind eye to the atrocities that are taking place on the government's watch.

Rather I see this both as a personal initiative to support local football and a way to introduce the name of Leeds United in the fastest growing country in Southeast Asia'. And insurgent attacks in the country killed 70 people earlier this year.

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Amnesty International was quick to criticise the move.

The decision to tour Myanmar has sparked security and health fears and raised ethical questions.

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

Almost 700,000 of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority have fled the country since August because of ongoing military operations in Rakhine.

Myanmar denies accusations its military crackdown constitutes ethnic cleansing.

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

AYA bank is owned by the Myanmar tycoon Zaw Zaw, who was blacklisted by the United States for being a crony of the former military regime.


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