Japanese Documentarian Detained in Myanmar

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Protesters at an anti-junta rally.

A Japanese video journalist was detained on Saturday by Myanmar’s security forces during a flash protest in Yangon.

The Associated Press reports that Japanese documentarian Toru Kubota was arrested by plainclothes police following a surprise protest rally organized by anti-junta group Yangon Democratic Youth Strike. He was reportedly taken away in a car which looked like a taxi.

The journalist–who has worked with publications including Yahoo! News Japan, Al Jazeera English, and VICE JAPAN–focuses on conflicts, immigrants, and refugee issues in his work. The Japanese embassy is reportedly petitioning for his early release.

The junta government of Myanmar has also arrested four other foreign journalists since the coup that put them in power, making Kubota the fifth. Nathan Maung and Danny Fenster of the US, Robert Bociaga of Poland, and Yuki Kitazumi were all arrested in Myanmar before being expelled from the country.

Approximately 140 journalists from within Myanmar have also been arrested since the coup, with about 55 of those journalists currently awaiting trial. International concern arose for Myanmar’s prisoners last week when four were hanged, sparking criticism from foreign organizations and from the chair of ASEAN, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Last year, the nations of ASEAN entered into a plan with Myanmar, called the “five-point consensus,” which was designed to encourage a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Laos’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs also released a statement last year encouraging “all parties concerned to engage in a peaceful resolution through constructive dialogue and reconciliation.”