U.S. journalist Nathan Maung, who worked for Kamayut Media, was released from a Myanmar prison Monday, June 14, after having been held there for three months, the Associated Press reports.
According to Maung’s attorney, the charges against him were dropped and his case dismissed; he is being deported from the country today.
Native Detroit journalist Danny Fenster remains jailed in Insein Prison in Yangon after having been detained at Yangon’s airport in Myanmar on May 24 where he’d been planning to return home to Metro Detroit for a vist.
Since Myanmar’s military junta seized power in February, about 90 journalists have been arrested, according to Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
Fenster’s family told NBC Chicago that they have not heard from him since he was taken into custody. They say he did nothing to warrant his arrest.
“What’s happening to him is part of a bigger story about democracy and the free press,” his brother Bryan said.
In a statement, the State Department says that it has “pressed the military regime to release Daniel immediately,” and says it will continue to do so “until he is allowed to return home safely.”
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in remarks delivered on the Senate floor June 14 said, “The military junta that seized power from Burma’s democratically-elected leaders back in February has kept up its campaign of brutal and violent repression.”
McConnell went on to mention the detainment of Fenster, among other U.S. detainees, all who have been denied consular access.
“The people of Burma are well-acquainted with the brutality of the Tatmadaw’s military rule. But the wider international community is receiving a sobering reminder of the challenges facing the country’s pro-democracy movement, and of the junta’s willingness to flout even the most basic international norms and treaty obligations,” McConnell said. “I appreciate the continued attention the Biden Administration is giving this crisis.”
At the G-7 Summit this past weekend in Britain, leaders, including President Biden, condemned the ruling junta and said they shared a commitment to “shutting off the flow of any assistance funds that might help the military further its repression.”
Local Attorneys Speak Out
Local pressure for the release of Fenster continues. On June 14, the Jewish Bar Association of Michigan issued this statement (in part):
“As attorneys, judges, and legal professionals, we have a profound interest in protecting the freedoms, safety, and human rights of our fellow citizens. The denial of his freedom is an egregious infringement of his rights. We urge the Myanmar government to release Danny immediately and unconditionally.
“We also ask our members to help advocate on Danny’s behalf. His family has created the website https://bringdannyhome.com with updates and action items including raising awareness, signing a petition to President Biden to secure Danny’s release, contacting elected officials and those serving on the foreign affairs committee, and reaching out to any other networks available.”