CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — American Danny Fenster was working as a magazine editor in Myanmar when a military coup effectively ended the country’s 10-year foray with democracy in February.
The 37-year-old journalist was supposed to fly to visit his family in Detroit on May 24 — but he was detained at the airport and never got on the plane.
Rose and Buddy Fenster say they received urgent text messages from their other son, Ryan, the following morning sharing the news from Danny’s wife that he’d been detained.
“There are no words; as the mother obviously want your child, no matter what age, they are your children forever and you just want them home safe and sound,” Rose said.
Weeks later, concern is growing among the U.S. government and Fenster’s family as they work the phones every day to demand his release.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken mentioned Fenster and another detained American journalist, Nathan Wall, during a House committee hearing earlier this week.
“We’ve not had access to Daniel Fenster, that’s a violation of among other things, the Vienna Convention. We’re pressing this in every way that we can,” he said. “We have very limited if any contact with the military regime, but certainly through others, we’re pressing as best we can.”
Since the military junta took control of the government, more than 850 people have died in the crackdown and nearly 6,000 have been arrested. Around 80 journalists were reportedly among those arrested, half of whom are still awaiting charges or trial.
Fenster’s family said he didn’t think he was at risk of being detained because his work as an editor was largely behind the scenes.
“He felt he was pretty much under the radar and was not really involved in any hard reporting at that time,” Buddy Fenster said.
Buddy says they heard from their ambassador that Danny is currently in the Insein Prison in Yangon, which over the years has housed thousands of political prisoners.
While they’re working through diplomatic channels to get him released, they say progress has been slow.
“We’re trying to put together a group of other countries’ ambassadors to try to approach this to see if somebody has a connection to cut through either the stonewalling or the fear or just ignorance, and just to get us to begin to talk about what’s going on,” he said.