The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network for editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today condemned the detention of Japanese freelance journalist Yuki Kitazumi in Myanmar and demanded his immediate release.

According to news reports, Yangon-based Kitazumi was detained and taken away from his home in a police vehicle during the night on April 17. The next day, the 45-year-old Kitazumi was reportedly moved to Insein prison, where many political prisoners are currently being held.

Kitazumi’s detention came just over a month after he was detained for several hours by security forces on February 26 while covering a protest. The reason for the current detention remains unknown.

“Myanmar must immediately release Yuki Kitazumi, and all other journalists it is holding”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen. “These arbitrary arrests are intended to scare the press away from covering the junta’s brutal crackdown. The Japanese and other foreign governments must hold Myanmar’s military leaders accountable for their human rights abuses.”

Japanese authorities have urged Myanmar to release the journalist and the Japanese embassy is trying to gather more information about the detention, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said.

The military junta seized power in Myanmar on February 1 and since then dozens of journalists have been attacked and arrested. Many media workers have also gone hiding due to the increased atmosphere of fear in the country.

In March the junta canceled licenses of five independent media organizations including Mizzima, Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB, Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now and TDay News and forced them to stop publishing and broadcasting. Internet access has also been restricted in the country amid the coup.

In total 737 people have been killed by security forces since the beginning of February and 3229 are held behind the bars, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAP) reported.