Journalist Danny Fenster’s family pushes for his release from detention in Myanmar

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
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Family and friends of a journalist detained in Myanmar sold T-shirts at a pop-up shop Friday to raise funds for charity.

Danny Fenster, 37, was detained May 24 at Yangon International Airport in Myanmar as he was preparing to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, en route to Detroit to see his family.

Rose Fenster (center), mother of journalist Danny Fenster, hugs her grandchildren Isoa Fenster, 8, and Van Fenster, 5, as supporters sold T-shirts on Friday, June 4, 2021 at the Huntington Woods Recreation Center to bring attention to the detainment of Danny Fenster in Myanmar.

The sale attracted supporters of Fenster's family. Among them was Congressman Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township.

Levin said he has been talking with the State Department regularly to get Fenster released.

“I’m here to bring Danny home,” he said. “We need to free Danny unconditionally and immediately.”

He said there was no reason for authorities to lock up Fenster. He said the only thing Fenster was doing was being a journalist and reporting the truth.

“We want him home right now. We’re not going to stop until we get him home.” 

This photo provided by Bryan Fenster shows his brother Danny Fenster in September 2019 in Krakow, Poland. Frontier Myanmar says Danny Fenster, its managing editor, was detained at Yangon's airport as he was preparing to board a flight to Malaysia.

Fenster is the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar magazine and a Wayne State University alum.

As Fenster's family waits for him to be released, it is "doing everything possible to keep the world's eyes on this frightening situation," organizers of the fundraiser said in a statement.

The pop-up shop was held in front of the Huntington Woods Recreation Center.

Some of the proceeds from the shirts that sold for $20 each will be given to a charity that Fenster will choose when he is released, they said.

T-shirts that were sold to raise funds for charity in the name of Danny Fenster, a journalist who was detained in Myanmar last month.

Danny's older brother, Bryan Fenster, said the journalist was taken to Insein Prison in Yangon, which over decades has housed thousands of political prisoners, including many from the current movement protesting military rule.

The junta that took power in February after the army ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi has arrested about 80 journalists, roughly half of whom remain detained awaiting charges or trial. 

On Wednesday, a U.S. State Department official called for the immediate release of Fenster and another American journalist.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said the arrests of Fenster and Nathan Maung were of deep concern and urged that they be allowed to return home to their families.

Congressman Andy Levin (left) shakes hands with Buddy Fenster, father of journalist Danny Fenster, on Friday, June 4, 2021 at the Huntington Woods Recreation Center to bring attention to the detainment of Danny Fenster in Myanmar.

“A free and independent media is indispensable to build prosperous, resilient and free societies. The detention of Daniel and Nathan, as well as arrests and use of violence by the Burmese military against other journalists, constitutes an unacceptable attack on the freedom of expression in Burma,” Sherman told journalists during a stop in Bangkok, referring to Myanmar by its former name.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

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