Japan filmmaker freed from Myanmar prison vows to tell story


PTI, Nov 28, 2022, 2:10 PM IST

Tokyo: Toru Kubota, a Japanese journalist who was arrested while covering a protest in military-ruled Myanmar and detained for more than three months, said his experience made him more determined to tell the story of people there.

“I feel I can understand their feelings more,” he said at a news conference in Tokyo on Monday.

Kubota, 26, was arrested July 30 and released on Nov 17 in a broad prisoner amnesty announced by Myanmar’s military government.

He had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly breaking immigration law, sedition and other violations.

Australian academic Sean Turnell, former British Ambassador Vicky Bowman and American Kyaw Htay Oo were also released in the amnesty.

But Kubota stressed that many people remain imprisoned.

“I’m just one of those 16,000 people,” Kubota said, referring to the number of people who have been detained, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights monitoring organisation.

Kubota said he was among 20 people placed in what he described as a “hellish” cell so tiny they had to sleep on top of each other.

Later, he was transferred to Insein prison in Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, also known as Burma. The prison has housed political prisoners under various previous governments.

Kubota showed copies of messages that inmates had given him pleading for help. “Hope everyone can help bring justice, human rights and democracy that are needed in Burma,” said one message in Burmese. “Thank you for standing with the Burmese people,” read another.

Kubota said he hopes to continue making films that will bring attention to the plight of people in Myanmar. His past films include several on Myanmar, including a documentary on persecuted minority Rohingya refugees who have fled the country.

“Being deprived of freedom means you can’t speak out, or you can’t express your views. It deprives you of your rights, your freedom,” he said.

A graduate of Japan’s Keio University with a master’s degree from the University of the Arts London, Kubota has done work for Yahoo! News Japan, Vice Japan and Al Jazeera English.

Myanmar’s army seized power in February last year by ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. It has cracked down on dissent, killing at least 2,465 civilians and arresting more than 16,000, according to the Assistance Association. Journalists have been detained on various charges, such as causing fear, spreading false news and agitating.

The Japanese government worked for Kubota’s release. His friends and supporters collected tens of thousands of signatures in an online petition, and PEN International and other rights groups also pushed for his freedom.

Kubota urged the Japanese government to do more to end human rights abuses in Myanmar.

He also said Japan could do more to welcome refugees from Myanmar and other nations. Last year, Japan accepted only 74 people as refugees, according to the Japan Association for Refugees.

“We must think about how to protect people who are trying to flee from authoritarian rule,” Kubota said. “Japan is being looked to as a place of hope.”

Udayavani is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest news.

Top News

9 missing after fishing boat capsizes in South Korea

Professor hailing from Karnataka on a mission to promote Punjabi language

Reentry of ex-mining baron spices up poll scene in parts of Karnataka

‘There was a knock on the door at 2 am’: Assam child bride recount crackdown

Bengaluru techie allegedly rapes multiple women he befriended online; arrested

There are no big or small cases for court, every matter is important: CJI Chandrachud

US shoots down Chinese surveillance balloon, trying to recover its parts


Related Articles More

Still feeling it bro: Shah Rukh Khan on record-breaking success of ‘Pathaan’

Privileged to be part of Kapoor family but want to earn the opportunity: Zahan Kapoor

Thalapathy Vijay’s next with Lokesh Kanagaraj titled ‘Leo’

‘Selfiee’ is a tribute to fans: Emraan Hashmi

Veteran filmmaker K Viswanath is no more

MUST WATCH

A successful coastal farmer growing watermelons

Mahesh Joshi Interview

Success Story of Mr bean

| Malpe fish market

Mahindra on Bengaluru waiter balancing 16 plates


Latest Additions

9 missing after fishing boat capsizes in South Korea

Lockheed Martin to display F-21 jet, other platforms at Aero-India 2023

Professor hailing from Karnataka on a mission to promote Punjabi language

Reentry of ex-mining baron spices up poll scene in parts of Karnataka

Mental health consulting needs to be included in health insurance: Report

Thanks for visiting Udayavani

You seem to have an Ad Blocker on.
To continue reading, please turn it off or whitelist Udayavani.