Toru Kubota, a Japanese filmmaker who was arrested in Myanmar in July, has been given a ten year prison term in the Southeast Asian nation. Kubota, 26, was first detained in late July while documenting a rally against the military in Yangon. He allegedly accused violating immigration laws and inciting rebellion at the time, according to Reuters.
According to The Japan Times, Kubota was sentenced by a junta controlled court to three years in prison for sedition and seven years in prison for offences involving electronic communications. He will likely serve both terms consecutively.
The military, according to the Japan Times, asserts that Kubota, whose 2016 film Light Up Rohingya won the AFP and Student Awards at the United for Peace Film Festival, entered the nation from neighboring Thailand using a tourist visa, and that he was taking part in the demonstration and interacting with protesters while filming.
Also Read: Unexpectedly much filming for “Avatar 4” has already been done
Japanese filmmaker is still facing legal action for allegedly breaking immigration law. The next hearing is on October 12. According to Reuters, a Japanese ministry official said, “We have been requesting Myanmar authorities for Mr. Kubota’s early release, and we intend to keep doing so.”
Responding to reports, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns Ming Yu Hah said. “With this latest verdict Myanmar’s military is cementing its reputation as one of the top jailers of journalists in the world. Filming a protest is not a crime. Myanmar’s military should release Toru Kubota immediately and let him go home. It should also drop charges against and release all journalists arrested and sentenced simply for doing their job.”
Since the military overthrew an elected government in February last year, Myanmar’s junta has arrested over 15,000 people. Including politicians, bureaucrats, students, journalists and photographers, and revoked broadcasting licenses in an effort to quash dissent.