The Western media announced that American citizen Danny Fenster was freed from prison in Myanmar and allowed to leave the Southeast Asian nation in mid November after negotiations between American politician Bill Richardson and Myanmar’s government.
Reuters in its article, “US journalist freed in Myanmar, says he is healthy and happy,” would claim:
Fenster was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Friday for incitement and violations of laws on immigration and unlawful assembly, a ruling that drew international condemnation.
Reuters would also describe Fenster as “managing editor of independent online magazine Frontier Myanmar.” But it was not his work at Frontier Myanmar that was the focus of charges against him.
Fenster Worked for Banned Media Org “Myanmar Now”
Associated Press in an earlier article published before his release titled, “Former job is key in case against US journalist in Myanmar,” would note:
Fenster had worked until July last year as a reporter and copy editor for the online news site Myanmar Now, and joined Frontier Myanmar the following month.
As popular resistance to the military takeover grew, Myanmar Now, along with several other media outlets, had its license revoked in early March. It was banned from publishing on any platform but has continued to operate clandestinely online.
This means Danny Fenster was working at a banned newspaper producing banned content amid deadly attacks carried out by armed opposition in the streets of Myanmar for several months before moving over to his new job at Frontier Myanmar. Myanmar’s immigration laws – like other nations around the globe – associate work permits and visas with specific occupations and specific companies or organizations. Fenster was clearly in violation of these laws.
Myanmar Now’s Association with Opposition Terrorists
Fenster was also charged with violating Myanmar’s Unlawful Associations Act for contacting and communicating with banned organizations making up the opposition. He was also charged with “spreading false or inflammatory information” according to AP.
AP mentions various civil disobedience movements the news platform was in contact with, but Myanmar Now was (and still is) also in contact with armed militants of the so-called “People’s Defense Forces” (PDF) who openly admit to carrying out deadly attacks against soldiers, police, and civil servants on a regular basis as well as to carrying out bombings targeting public buildings and national infrastructure.
Before Danny Fenster left Myanmar Now, the website was (and still is) posting articles including the PDF’s continuous threats of armed terrorism against Myanmar’s government as well as articles describing opposition death squads and their campaign of systematically murdering local adminstrators accused of “collaborating” with the central government.
Myanmar Now – both during and after Fenster’s time there – spends an inordinate amount of time in what appears to be attempts to justify these murders by describing how “unpopular” or “unliked” murdered officials were – all based on hearsay by unnamed sources.
Myanmar Now also publishes articles indicating the media platform is clearly in direct contact with terrorists who have carried out atrocities.
One article titled, “After a bold attack, PDF fighters consider their next move,” the murder of six railway security guards aboard a passenger train is described. Myanmar Now admits it was in contact with the terrorists who carried out the attack and even quoted one of the killers, La Pyae Wun, who claimed, “anyone in uniform who continues to work for the junta, including traffic police, firefighters, and even Red Cross workers, is fair game.”
Myanmar Now is Also Funded by the US Government
Myanmar Now could be described in much the same way as media outlets associated with terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda (banned in Russia). Both actively promote the exploits of terrorists in support of a shared political objective.
Myanmar Now is openly anti-government and in no way an objective news organization. Besides its constant communication and cooperation with armed terrorists carrying out deadly attacks across Myanmar, another fact is omitted from recent Western reports regarding Fenster’s case and the media platform he worked for until July 2021.
A 2019 article appearing in Columbia Journalism Review titled, “Myanmar’s Other Reporters,” would reveal Myanmar Now “receives funding from the National Endowment for Democracy.”
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is Washington’s funding arm for political interference around the globe. Prominent Western newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post have revealed that the NED has assumed the US Central Intelligence Agency’s role in implementing regime-change around the globe.
US Regime-Change in Myanmar
The NED’s role in Myanmar’s current political crisis is extensive.
In addition to funding Myanmar Now and other prominent opposition media outlets like Mizzima, The Irrawaddy, and Democratic Voice of Burma, virtually every senior opposition leader has directly benefited from NED and adjacent organizational funding both in building up their political power and in maintaining it. This support also extends to ethnic minority groups including armed factions whose media arms benefit from US government money channeled through the NED.
Aung San Suu Kyi would even at one point travel to Washington DC and meet with NED president Carl Gershman and NED-subsidiary National Democratic Institute head Madeline Albright to collect her 2012 NED “Democracy Award.”
This same US-funded and backed opposition – ousted from power in February – now exists in the form of the “National Unity Government” (NUG) which maintains a website listing its various “ministers.”
Among them are many recipients of NED money including the NUG’s “Minister of Foreign Affairs,” Zin Mar Aung. Her official profile on the NUG’s website actually admits she was “a fellow in the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow of the National Endowment for Democracy program.” Zin Mar Aung also has her own webpage on the NED’s official website.
Danny Fenster was not an independent journalist unfairly imprisoned. He is an American agent, working for a US government-funded media platform promoting sedition inside a foreign country in support of an opposition funded and supported at its absolute highest levels by the US government through the National Endowment for Democracy.
And whether by coincidence or by design, it should be noted that Bill Richardson has been chairman of Freedom House, a subsidiary of the NED alongside the NDI and its Republican counterpart organization, the International Republican Institute.
Fenster himself along with the US government and Western media have attempted to claim Fenster was involved in no wrongdoing – yet their collective activities in regards to Myanmar clearly constitute interference in another sovereign nation’s internal political affairs – a violation of the UN Charter and a violation of Myanmar’s sovereignty. It is a violation the United States would never tolerate another nation imposing on it.
The release of Fenster likely afforded Myanmar’s government no significant concessions from Washington in regards to its backing of the opposition. Fenster was just one part in a vast network interfering in the nation’s political system that continues to divide and destroy the nation even as Fenster enjoys his freedom back in the United States.
Until Myanmar, ASEAN of which Myanmar is a member, and Asia as a whole adopt local and regional security laws to stamp out this sort of interference, the region will suffer the very sort of instability Myanmar is suffering now.
Brian Berletic is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.