On his way home to the United States on May 24, metro Detroit journalist Danny Fenster was arrested by security forces in Myanmar. Fenster, who grew up in Huntington Woods, had been living in the country for several years working as managing editor of Frontier Myanmar. Fenster continued to operate even after the violent military coup in February, as his publication had not been shut down by the new regime. He was seized at an airport for reasons not yet explained, and has been detained for more than two weeks in Insein prison.
“He knew what he was getting into, for sure. But he carries a deep responsibility … to be accurate, to be truthful … to be a voice for the voiceless.” —Bryan Fenster, brother of journalist Danny Fenster
Fenster’s family has been strenuously campaigning for his release, rallying the Southeast Michigan community to support the Bring Danny Home movement. Rep. Andy Levin says he is working with the State Department and other government forces for the Michigander’s freedom.
Listen: The effort to free detained Michigan journalist Danny Fenster.
Rep. Andy Levin represents Michigan’s 9th District, and is spearheading congressional action for Danny Fenster’s release. He says it has been difficult to try to get communication with Fenster, let alone set him free. “This is an extremely isolated country, and it’s a coup regime,” Levin says. “Not only are we working through official channels, but now I’m reaching out … to anyone who might have influence in getting Danny out.”
Levin, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Asia Subcommittee, says he’s not happy that the very things he’s been studying are “coming home to roost.” “[The Myanmar military] are violating international laws,” he says. ”We should have had access to him immediately … that is unacceptable and illegal.”
According to Levin, Fenster shouldn’t have been a target because his publication had been operating legally under the current regime. “We think they may have just made a mistake here,” he says. “There’s just no legitimate reason for this.” Levin says he and the Fenster family are working together every day to free Danny from prison. “We’re turning over every rock to try to find the lever that can help get Danny released.”
Bryan Fenster is the brother of Danny Fenster, and is leading the campaign for his release. He says Danny was determined to continue his work in Myanmar, even after the military coup. “He knew what he was getting into, for sure, but he carries a deep responsibility … to be accurate, to be truthful … to be a voice for the voiceless.” He says it’s been 18 days since Danny was detained, with no communication or reasoning as to why he’s been imprisoned. “[For] the family … it’s not good, and each day is getting worse … I’m just trying to take that energy and use it to help this movement get him home.”
Bryan Fenster says the movement to bring Danny home will not stop until the journalist is freed safely and unconditionally. “We know this is going to take time. Things move incredibly slow there, which is frustrating, but we understand.” He says Levin has been working tirelessly for Danny’s release. “Congressman Levin, we say in our family, is our guardian angel. We talk every day,” he says. ”We’ve been working hard. They’ve been working hard too.”