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Family of metro Detroit journalist jailed in Myanmar asks for release

Posted at 11:19 PM, May 31, 2021

(WXYZ) — A Metro Detroit journalist is still being detained in Myanmar, a country in Southeast Asia currently under military rule.

Danny Fenster, 37, from Huntington Woods, is the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar. He has worked there since last year.

His family and U.S. lawmakers have been desperately trying to bring him home.

Just eight days ago, Danny was at an airport in Myanmar, getting ready to fly home to visit his family. His wife, who lives in Myanmar, suddenly received a text from him that read "I'm being detained, call the embassy.”

“We have no confirmation just seeing him, seeing he’s OK,” said Danny's father Buddy Fenster.

It’s been an agonizing eight days for the Fenster family at their home in Huntington Woods. They haven’t heard a word since learning their son Danny was imprisoned in Myanmar where he works as a journalist.

“Every day is a week," Buddy said. "You’re just constantly looking at your phone, you’re constantly calling, you’re constantly following up.”

In February, the country’s military overthrew the elected government and has been in control ever since. Throughout the coup, Danny continued his work as Managing Editor at the Myanmar magazine.

“I asked him initially 'What is it like there? Can you sense a change in government?'" Buddy recalled. "And he said there is no government here.”

Danny grew up in Huntington Woods, attended Berkley High School, and got his master's degree at Wayne State University. He’s worked as a journalist in both the US and in Asia.

“Danny is extremely passionate about journalism and the responsibility that comes with it," said Danny's brother Bryan Fenster. "We knew this would always be a risk but you got to do what you got to do.”

Bryan had these t-shirts made, hoping to spread the word of his bothers arrest. US elected leaders are also sending a message.

“If you look at what Danny was doing, he’s doing straight-up journalism,” said US Representative Andy Levin. "He was helping the people of Myanmar and the world learn the truth of what was happening there and that is a great public service.”

Congressman Levin and other elected leaders from Michigan penned a letter to the US Secretary of State, asking him to urgently seek Danny’s release.

“This regime is mowing down it’s own citizens and they’ve absolutely gone after all manner of dissidents or journalists just trying to tell the truth about what’s happening,” Levin said.

According to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, since the coup, the military has arrested more than 5,500 people. Nearly 4,500 are still detained and 840 have been killed.

“There has been no charge against him either, it’s really strange," Buddy said. "It’s really odd. We just want some understanding to what this thing is about and why can’t we see him.”

Congressman Levin says he has also been in contact with the US ambassador in Myanmar trying to get answers. The Fenster family will be launching a website soon, and are using the hashtag #bringdannyhome on social media.

To view the online petition for Danny's release, click here.