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Myanmar coup: Junta charges Japanese journalist with dissent

Maung Sun / Wikimedia Commons

The Myanmar junta pressed charges on a Japanese journalist it detained over filming protests that occurred in the country. The junta charged the journalist with encouraging dissent against its military.

The Myanmar junta issued a statement this week announcing that it has charged Japanese journalist Toru Kubota with encouraging dissent against the military. The junta also charged Kubota with breaching immigration law.

This comes as the junta has sought to crack down on dissent among the citizens and press freedoms since the generals seized power in a coup in February last year. Hundreds were killed in the crackdown, and thousands were detained.

Myanmar laws carry a maximum three-year prison term for encouraging dissent against the military, and a maximum five-year prison term for breaching immigration laws.

Kubota was arrested near an anti-coup protest in Yangon along with two other Myanmar citizens. Kubota was transferred to Insein Prison in Yangon following the charges that were filed against him, according to AFP, citing a security source.

Kubota is also the fifth journalist that the junta has arrested following the arrests of US nationals Nathan Maung and Danny Fenster, Polish national Robert Bociaga, and Japanese national Yuki Kitazumi – all of whom were freed and deported.

“The regime has declared war on journalists, and 505 (a) is its preferred charge,” said International Crisis Group’s Richard Horsey, according to AFP. “This charge against a Japanese journalist shows the regime is determined to continue stifling objective reporting, whether by local or foreign journalists.”

The Japanese foreign ministry said that its embassy in Myanmar was looking to appeal to the authorities for the release of Kubota.

ASEAN chair, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday that the bloc may be forced to rethink its peace plan if the junta continues executions, following the execution of four activists by the junta last month, drawing international condemnation.

“If more prisoners are executed, we will be forced to rethink…our role vis a vis ASEAN’s five-point consensus,” said Hun Sen in his opening remarks at the meeting with the bloc’s foreign ministers.

Hun Sen said the bloc’s unity was challenged by the crisis in Myanmar, and as the peace plan has led to little progress from the junta, there was progress on providing the country with humanitarian aid.

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