Myanmar: Military detains Japanese journalist

The Myanmar military detained Japanese freelance journalist, Yuki Kitazumi in Yangon on April 18 for allegedly disseminating ‘fake news’. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemn the continued threat to journalists across Myanmar and calls for the immediate release of all detained journalists.

Japanese journalist Yuki Kitazumi. Credit: Twitter

Yuki Kitazumi, a freelance journalist and owner of Yangon Media Professionals, a media production company, was arrested at his home in Yangon and transferred to Insein prison overnight.Myanmar state television stations reported, Kitazumi was charged with spreading ‘fake news’ under article 505(A) of the Penal Code.

While not providing a name, the Japanese government confirmed a journalist in his forties was detained on April 18. Japanese Embassy officials said they are unable to visit him in detention, and chief cabinet secretary, Katsunobu Kato asked ‘Myanmar authorities to explain the arrest and release him as soon as possible.’

Article 505(A) of Myanmar’s penal code is a new amendment made by Myanmar’s State Administrative Council, a body set up by the military after the coup on February 1. The amendment was announced on February 14 and criminalises comments which “cause fear”, spread “false news, (or) agitates directly or indirectly a criminal offense against a government employee.”

Kitazumi was previously detained and released the same day on February 26 while covering protests. According to Reuters, Kitazumi was the first foreign reporter to be detained since the military-coup on February 1.

At least 60 media workers have been arrested since the coup began including Mizzima News co-founder and journalist, Thin Thin Aung two weeks ago. Thin Thin Aung disappeared on April 8 and she is now held in Yay Kyi Eaing interrogation centre. Her apartment was raided by authorities on April 9. Aung had previously spent 15 years in exile in India due to the country’s troubled political history. Since her arrest, many human rights and journalists groups have called for her release, including the Women’s League of Burma.

The IFJ said: “The volume of journalists detained by the Myanmar military has proven extreme concern for the IFJ. The Myanmar military continue to erode processes of democracy and press freedom across the country. The military must listen to calls from journalist and human rights groups and stop the arbitrary arrest of journalists.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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