A refugee from Myanmar belonging to an ethnic minority urged Japan on Monday to grant asylum to more of his compatriots, saying they face serious persecution back home.

Zaw Min Htut, president of the Burmese Rohingya Association in Japan, is a member of the Rohingya minority group. He was recognized as a refugee by the Japanese government in March 2002.

So far, eight people from the minority group have been granted refugee status here, but there are 30 to 40 others still seeking asylum, Htut told a news conference.

Earlier in the day, Htut talked with Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry officials about the situation confronting his minority group in Myanmar, as part of a series of actions marking World Refugee Day.

At a news conference after the two meetings, Htut spoke of human rights violations by the military regime in Myanmar.

"We are the only people in the world without a country," Htut said of alleged human rights violations carried out by the ruling junta. "We are not recognized as citizens" by the military rulers, he added.

Current law in Myanmar regarding citizenship has three categories: full citizens, associate citizens and naturalized citizens.

Amnesty International reported in 2004 that a vast majority of Rohingyas have been excluded from citizenship by not qualifying for any of the three categories.

The watchdog group recommended to the Myanmar government that it amend the citizenship law to ensure that "all legal provisions and all decisions regarding citizenship are free of any discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, sex, language or religion."

Htut stressed that the Rohingyas' human rights are violated to the extent that they are unable to move freely from one city to another, go to school or a hospital, or even marry without permission from the authorities.