Danny Fenster
Danny Fenster. (Bryan Fenster)

Danny’s brother Bryan Fesnter said the family has not spoken with the journalist since Aug. 1, when he first complained of symptoms such as congestion and fever but had not been tested for COVID.

The family of journalist and Huntington Woods native Danny Fenster marked 100 days since he was taken prisoner by the Myanmar military junta with an Aug. 31 press conference expressing gratitude of the support received from friends, community and government officials as well as their continued determination to assure his release.

Fenster is the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar. On May 24, 2021, he was detained by the military in Myanmar moments before he was to fly from Yangon to Detroit to see his family for the first time in over three years. Since then, he has been held at the notorious Insein Prison under investigation under a law criminalizing dissent that carries a maximum three-year jail sentence but has yet to be charged.

The fourth foreign journalist arrested since the military takeover in February 2021, Danny is one of more than 70 reporters in Myanmar who have been wrongfully imprisoned. Their plight has drawn international calls for their freedom.

Danny’s brother Bryan said the family has not spoken with the journalist since Aug. 1, when he first complained of symptoms such as congestion and fever but had not been tested for COVID.  There has been a sharp rise in COVID cases in the cloistered country, especially within the prison.

“One hundred days into his imprisonment, my fists are clenched just as tightly as they were on the first day.” said Bryan Fenster, who has worked tirelessly to keep the spotlight on his brother’s plight with the #BringDannyHome social media campaign and other actions. “The worst part is that sleepless nights have become our new normal.”

The T-shirt design by Robbie Biederman.
Robbie Biederman

Bryan said Danny is being represented by an attorney from Frontier Myanmar, and the family is in touch with the counselor through a translator, though communication and information has been very limited. His next hearing was scheduled for Sept. 6.

U.S. Congressman Andy Levin, who was also on the conference, released a statement ahead of the grim milestone. Though he had no promising developments to report on the journalist’s status, he said that he, with the Fenster family, the State Department and Congress, are “pursuing all possible channels to move Burma’s military authorities to release Danny.

“I want to reach out to everyone because we must not remain silent,” read Levin’s statement. “The urgency of our efforts has not diminished in any way — not Danny’s family, not our community and not the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, not any of us. We remain as committed as ever to bringing Danny home immediately and unconditionally.”

Each morning when Danny’s father, Buddy Fenster, wakes up in Huntington Woods, he knows another day is ending in Myanmar that his son is not free.

“We were hoping to have him home by Rosh Hashanah,” Buddy said.  “We celebrate Judaism with happiness and family togetherness but unfortunately, there is also suffering. Danny was raised listening to the stories of his grandmother (Lily Fenster) who is a Holocaust survivor. We believe those stories resonated deeply for Danny.  It was what inspired him to want to tell the stories of other people who do not have a voice, and who have suffered as well.”

Danny’s mother, Rose Fenster, added, “As a journalist, Danny has always been the type of person to deeply care and listen and tell other people’s stories. We are grateful for our community as well as local government support who continue to keep Danny’s story alive. Hope is inherent in human nature. We are going to stay tough and feed off Danny’s strength.”

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Stacy Gittleman is an award-winning journalist and has been a contributing writer for the Detroit Jewish News for the last five years. Prior to moving to Metro Detroit in 2013, she was a columnist and feature writer for Gannett's Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, NY. She also manages social media pages for other local non-profit organizations including the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit. Contact her with breaking news and feature story ideas that impact Detroit's Jewish community at stacy.gittleman@yahoo.com