Myanmar junta jails Japanese filmmaker for 10 years

YANGON: Myanmar Army A Japanese filmmaker has been jailed for 10 years, more than two months after he was arrested while filming an anti-coup protest, an army spokesman said on Thursday.
The military has clamped down on press freedom since last year’s coup, arresting reporters and photographers and revoking broadcast licenses while the country was plunged into chaos.
Toru Kubota, 26, was arrested near an anti-government protest in downtown Yangon in July along with two Myanmar nationals.
An army spokesman said in a statement Wednesday he was sentenced to seven years in prison for violating the criminal law by spreading information detrimental to national security as well as peace and quiet. .
It added that he had also received a three-year sentence for encouraging dissent against the military – an allegation that has been widely used in the crackdown.
The sentences will be served simultaneously, the government statement added.
A diplomat at the Japanese embassy in Myanmar said Kubota also faces charges of violating immigration laws, with the next hearing scheduled for October 12.
Japan’s foreign ministry said it had provided consular assistance and would “continue to call on the Myanmar authorities for the early release of Mr. Kubota.”
The filmmaker arrived in Myanmar in July and is filming a “documentary about a Burmese”, his friend Yoshitaka Nitta said at a press conference in Tokyo in August.
According to a profile on the FilmFreeway website, Kubota has previously made documentaries about Myanmarof the Muslim Rohingya minority and “refugees and ethnic issues in Myanmar”.
Japan is Myanmar’s top donor and has a long relationship with the country’s military.
After the coup, Tokyo announced it would stop all new aid, although it stopped short of imposing individual sanctions on military and police commanders.
Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch said Kubota’s imprisonment was a “slap in the face” for Tokyo.
“It’s time for Japan to stop playing games and move in favor of international sanctions that will actually choke off the military’s revenue stream.”
In September, Japan’s defense ministry said it would halt a training program for members of the Myanmar military from next year after the army executed four political prisoners.
The military’s execution of four people in July, in response to international calls for leniency, was Myanmar’s first capital punishment in decades and sparked international outrage.
Kubota is the fifth foreign journalist detained in Myanmar, after US citizens Nathan Maung and Danny Fenster. Robert Bociaga of Poland and Yuki Kitazumi of Japan – all of whom were later released and deported.
Fenster, who was detained last May as he tried to leave the country, has faced a closed-door trial in Insein on charges of unlawful association, incitement against the military and trespassing. visa regulations.
He was sentenced to 11 years in prison before being pardoned and deported.
As of March this year, 48 journalists remain in detention across the country, according to the monitoring group ASEAN Reports.
The army’s crackdown on dissidents since the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has left more than 2,300 civilians dead, according to a local monitoring group. local monitoring group.
The authorities say they blame anti-coup fighters for the deaths of nearly 3,900 civilians.


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