Myanmar Junta must release Journo Yuki Kitazumi says Japan



The violent takeover of Myanmar by six Tatmadaw generals facing life in prison for crimes against humanity they allegedly commit in 2016-2017 have taken 3,230 new political prisoners including dozens of journalists and slaughtered nearly 750 peace advocates according to the NGO Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Among the journalists held as political prisoners is Japan’s noted journalist Yuki Kitazumi.


by Micheal John and Rosa Yamamoto


 

Mr. Kitazumi, a friend of FPMag, was arrested at his home Sunday night. Kitazumi is believed to be held at Yangon’s Insein Prison, a place where political prisoners are typically held, according to journalists who have been previously released.

Japan’s foreign affairs office has now confirmed that speculation.

Japan has protested the arrest and demanded the release of Mr. Yuki Kitazumi.

Japanese Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters that his government is asking Myanmar authorities to explain the Kitazumi-arrest and release Mr. Kitazumi hastily.

Journalist Yuki Kitazumi had posted a video showing Myanmar citizens gathering at a Tokyo temple paying tribute to activists killed in the Myanmar military junta’s crackdown on opposition to the Junta’s seizure of power and arrest of the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi now in detention.
Kitazumi was detained briefly by police 26 February while covering pro-democracy protests in Myanmar. He was again arrested at his home on Sunday 18 April 2021.
File Photo from Nikkei Business News plus AP Photo of Yuki’s arrest.
Art/Cropping/Enhancement: Rosa Yamamoto FPMag


Several dozen other journalists have been arrested by the Tatmadaw, accused of allegedly violating section 505(a) of the Myanmar Criminal Code which now prohibits content that ’causes fear,’ reports ‘fake news, or agitates a criminal offense against a Government employee’, which according to journalist accounts entails merely writing an article that details the violence of the junta members.


A meeting of the ASEAN nations to discuss the crisis in Myanmar is scheduled for 24 April in Jakarta. All ASEAN  members are expected to attend in person. The two sides including the elected government of  Aung San Suu Kyi and the alleged genocidal criminal under investigation by the International Criminal Court, General Min Aung Hlaing are expected to attend the meeting.


On Monday, the former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke to a U.N. Security Council meeting urging “the secretary-general himself should use his good offices to engage directly with the Myanmar military, to prevent an escalation of violence,” according to UNSC meeting observers.

“ASEAN must make it clear to the Myanmar military that the current situation is so grave that it cannot be regarded only as an internal matter,” said Ban Ki-moon.

“The [Tatmadaw] military’s use of lethal force and the gross violations of human rights being perpetrated against the civilians are not compatible with the ASEAN Charter,” he said.

“These actions are clear violations of international law, and constitute a threat to the peace, security and stability of the region.”

 

Strung with cameras and recorders in Myanmar, journalist Yuki Kitazumi

Strung with cameras and recorders in Myanmar, journalist Yuki Kitazumi has been covering the opposition to the Tatmadaw murders since the military coup on 1 February. He was arrested at his home 18 April 2021 after posting video of tributes to the murdered opponents to the junta. Art/Cropping/Enhancement: Rosa Yamamoto FPMag


Six Tatmadaw Generals who led the 1 February Junta Coup are also alleged criminals against humanity who led ‘genocidal actions’ against the Rohingya people in 2016-2017. They are:

  • Commander-in-Chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing;
  • Brigadier-General Aung Aung, commander of the 33rd Light Infantry Division;
  • Vice Senior-General Soe Win; the commander of the Bureau of Special Operations-3;
  • Lieutenant-General Aung Kyaw Zaw; the commander of Western Regional Military Command;
  • Major-General Maung Maung Soe; and
  •  Brigadier-General Than Oo, the commander of 99th Light Infantry Division.

(The UN investigative report of 2019 on the conduct of these men said that ethnic cleansing is evident and that their crimes have “all the hallmarks of genocide”. The report of the UN investigative team’s findings is so graphic that Lise Gregoire-van Haaren, deputy permanent representative of the Netherlands to the UN, felt  compelled to say that “The number of heavily traumatized women, men and children is beyond people’s comprehension. Myanmar must cooperate so Rohingya can return in a safe, dignified and sustainable way [to their homes in Myanmar].”)