DETROIT (AP) – An American journalist who was recently released after spending nearly six months in jail in military-controlled Myanmar helped light one of eight Hanukkah candles at a downtown party from Detroit.
Danny Fenster, 37, joined elected officials and community leaders on Sunday evening for the âMenorah in the Dâ event to mark the start of Chanukah.
Fenster, from the Detroit suburb of Huntington Woods, was handed over by Myanmar on November 15 to former US diplomat Bill Richardson, who helped negotiate his release. He returned to the United States the next day.
Fenster, editor-in-chief of the online magazine Frontier Myanmar, is one of more than 100 journalists, media officials and publishers detained in the Southeast Asian country since his army overthrew the elected government in February.
He was arrested on May 24 at Yangon International Airport and convicted of spreading false or inflammatory information, contacting illegal organizations and violating visa regulations. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison with hard labor.
“This was not a theme I had thought of before the time of my release and the time of this event, but I think there is this obvious connection to shedding light on darkness in journalism. Fenster, who is Jewish, told the Detroit Free Press. . “The things I was arrested for, being part of the news agency trying to shed light on a very dark regime, obviously seem to resonate with me.”
âI can’t imagine a better community to come home to,â Fenster said at a reception ahead of Sunday’s menorah lighting. âAnd that just made an already great and joyful situation even more joyful. I just had a lot of love and appreciation with us here in Detroit and in the Detroit subway, in the Jewish community and in the community at large. It’s just amazing.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan attended the ceremony, saying none of the previous events had been as special as this year with Fenster’s safe return.
âIt really is a happy Hanukkah in Detroit. God bless you, âDuggan said before lighting up.
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