Conflicts & War

Myanmar charges detained Japanese filmmaker with violating immigration law

Bangkok, Aug 4 (EFE).- Japanese documentary maker Toru Kubota, who was arrested in Myanmar over the weekend, has been charged with violating immigration laws and inciting dissent against the military, the junta said on Thursday.

The regime said in a statement that the independent filmmaker had entered the country on a tourist visa and has been charged under Section 505-A and under the immigration law 13-1.

Violating the immigration law carries a maximum sentence of two years, while the article 505-A is related to inciting dissent against the military, which is punishable by up to three years in prison.

Both the laws have been widely used by Myanmar’s military junta after it seized power in a coup in February 2021, ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and subsequently jailing and cracking down on the opposition.

Kubota, in his 20s, had traveled to Yangon on Jul. 13 and was arrested on Saturday while filming protests against the junta in the city, the biggest of Myanmar.

Japanese media has cited military sources as saying that the filmmaker has admitted to getting in touch with some of the protesters and remaining at the protest spot with them for a day.

After getting to know of the arrest, the Japanese government urged Myanmar authorities to release Kubota as soon as possible,

Journalists have been one of the main targets of the military junta it seized power.

More than 100 journalists were imprisoned at one point after the coup while independent media have faced persecution and closure.

In April 2021, just three months after the coup, the police arrested another Japanese journalist who was covering a protest in Yangon.

Freelance reporter Yuki Kitazumi, 46, was charged with spreading false news, which is punishable by up to three years in prison, but was released a few weeks later after diplomatic mediation by the Japanese government.

The coup plunged Myanmar into a political, economic and social crisis, with clashes between the junta forces and opponents and an increase in repression.

The scale of the regime’s crackdown on dissent was made evident when it executed four dissidents recently, including former National League for Democracy lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw and activist Ko Jilly.

At least 2,138 people have died as a result of violent repression by security forces, while almost 15,000 people have been arbitrarily arrested, according to data collected by the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. EF


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