A vigil for Danny Fenster, a former Acadiana journalist, was held tonight in New Iberia.
Fenster, who worked for the Daily Iberian and The Current during his years in Acadiana, was imprisoned last month in Myanmar, accused of publishing works that "cause fear" and spread "false news."
Friends and supporters of Fenster gathered on the steps of City Hall in New Iberia to pray and show support for the journalist, and show their hope that he returns home safely.
"While he was here, he concentrated on the African American community, and brought light to stories that were often no told in the local press," says Charleen Markle, a community activist. "He covered parents of murder victims whose cases haven't yet been solved - social justice groups."
When Fenster moved to Myanmar, he continued that. Working as managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, Fenster told stories of natives who have been oppressed by the government take-over. On May 25, he was arrested and charged under Section 505A of Myanmar's penal code, which makes it a crime to publish or create comments that cause fear and spread false news.
"It's just unsubstantiated charges against him. He's a journalist, he's not a politician. He's just telling the truth and they're trying to suppress that," Markle said.
Since his arrest, the U.S. State Department has been pressing Myanmar's government for his release. Markle says that on July 1, Fenster will meet with a judge who will determine whether or not the charges are dropped.
"You know the press is supposed to be free world-wide, and of course we know that it isn't," said Markle. "More and more journalists are imprisoned, detained and expelled from countries every year as more and more dictatorial governments take over. We are really concerned and we just want to see him released and allowed to come home as soon as possible."