The parents of an American journalist detained in Myanmar have a message for local authorities: Release him now.
“It’s a total nightmare; it’s a total feeling of no control. It’s heart-wrenching,” said Rose Fenster, mother of Frontier Myanmar editor Danny Fenster, on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday. “I just want my son home no matter what it takes. Please release him and send him home to his family.”
Fenster, 37, was stopped at the Yangon airport as he tried to board a flight out of the country last week. He was on his way home to surprise his parents. Fenster is a US citizen from Detroit. He works in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city.
Buddy Fenster, Danny Fenster’s father, told CNN Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter Sunday that his son had two weeks ago noted a rapidly worsening situation for journalists in Myanmar following February’s military coup.
“He voiced concern: ‘All the reporters; all the journalists are leaving this country,” Buddy Fenster said. “I got a feeling he thought it may be time to start heading home.”
Fenster’s parents said he had a passion to “write what’s right” and to speak truth. They said they supported his decision to travel the world — first to Bangkok and eventually to Myanmar — even as they grew increasingly worried about his safety.
“I’m trying to be strong and positive — and It’s minute by minute, running on fumes, keeping my mind on the positive and not letting my mind going to where it could go,” Rose Fenster said. “We’ve always had a sense of danger when he went there — yes, a sense of danger and awareness — but trust.”
The Fensters started a petition on MoveOn to keep pressure on American politicians to get their son back to the United States.
“It’s just about awareness, it’s getting the word out,” said Buddy Fenster. “It’s not letting this story slide away in the news cycle. We want people talking about this story every day.”
Buddy Fenster also has a message to Myanmar’s military regime: Imprisoning journalists is not a winning strategy.
“Their efforts to squelch journalism … just kills life. It kills freedom and it kills truth,” Buddy Fenster said. “They need to let him go immediately. He has not committed any crime there.”