Conflicts & War

Freed Japanese filmmaker says Myanmar junta used him for propaganda

Tokyo, Nov 28 (EFE).- Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota said on Monday that the Myanmar military government used him for propaganda as they made him pose with an anti-junta banner and used the photos as evidence to jail him on sedition charges.

“I have no doubt that I was used as a propaganda tool,” Kubota said during his first press conference after the junta freed him on Nov.17.

He spent nearly four months in prison and was one of the prisoners released after an amnesty from the military junta.

Just over a week after returning to Japan, he shared his experience in the military-ruled country, hoping that “the situation of those people whose lives are at stake in Myanmar … get a little better.”

Kubota was arrested in July while filming pro-democracy protests in Yangon.

A junta-run court sentenced him to 10 years in prison for inciting dissent and violating telecom and immigration laws.

The filmmaker entered Myanmar in the middle of July on a tourist visa on his first visit in three years.

He wanted to film a documentary featuring a human rights activist friend, who stayed in the country after the military coup in February 2021.

Kubota said hardly anything had changed as “the calm was only in appearance” in the city that continued to be tense.

During his short stay in Myanmar before his arrest shortly after his arrival, Kubota spoke with a man who had been detained for six months for a Facebook post criticizing.

He said he also spoke to a homeless woman whose money was seized by the police.

“Living outside or inside a prison is the same in Myanmar,” he recalled a friend telling him before his arrest.

“(People) can be arrested at any time, they always have that fear,” Kubota said.

The filmmaker posed as a passerby to film a spontaneous demonstration in Yangon on July 30.

As he was about to leave, he realized he was being tailed by a vehicle.

He was stopped and detained immediately.

He spent more than a week in a police station, putting up inside a 2X5-meter room with more than 20 people.

The cell had one toilet. It was pitch dark even during the day and the inmates would sleep in a fetal position, lying on their sides with their knees up to their chests.

He said some prisoners “showed signs of having been assaulted,” with bruise marks on their bodies.

Kubota said he was treated well initially, but the attitude of policemen turned hostile when they discovered his work on the Rohingyas, the persecuted Muslim minority in the Buddhist-majority country.

Related Articles

Back to top button