Humanitarian Kay Danes Honored By Australian Government For Laos, Hmong Human Rights Efforts

Hmong, Laos Human Rights Advocate Honored With Medal of the Order of Australia
WASHINGTON - Jan. 26, 2014 - PRLog -- & Canberra, Australia (original release date January 26, 2014, Australia Day)

International human rights advocate Kay Danes, who suffered imprisonment and torture in communist Laos, is being honored by official Canberra on Australia Day with the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).  She is one of Australia's 2014 OAM recipients for service to the community through social justice and human rights.

For over a decade, Mrs. Danes has repeatedly traveled to Washington, D.C., on official invitation, to speak in the U.S. Congress about human rights violations in Laos and the plight of the Lao and Hmong people, including imprisoned political and religious dissidents.  She has testified about the status of refugees facing forced repatriation, foreign prisoners tortured in Laos, religious persecution, and three Hmong-Americans from St. Paul, Minnesota, still imprisoned and missing in Laos, including Mr. Hakit Yang. Mr. Congshineng Yang, and Mr. Trillion Yunhaison,

“Kay Danes had provided critical and important research, evidence and testimony to the U.S. Congress, government policymakers and the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), over the years, regarding ongoing human rights and religious freedom violations in Laos, Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the CPPA. (

“This vital information, and Mrs. Danes’ courage to give voice to the voiceless, has been invaluable in helping to understand the hidden reality of the situation under the communist regimes in Laos and Vietnam, especially in light of the recent abduction of civic activist and Magsaysay Award winner Sombath Somphone by Lao security forces in Vientiane, and the international outcry for his release,” Smith commented.

Smith continued:  “Joining with many U.S.-based non-governmental organizations, including Lao and Hmong-American human rights and refugee groups, and victims’ families, we wish to sincerely congratulate Mrs. Kay Danes for being honored today with the Medal of the Order of Australia by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the government and people of Australia. We are very happy for Kay Danes as well as her husband Kerry Danes and family, especially after the horrific human rights abuses they both suffered and witnessed in Laos during their terrible imprisonment and abuse by the Lao government.”

“Among other important humanitarian efforts, Kay Danes also provided crucial evidence and testimony about the Lao government’s recent and unfettered role in human rights abuses, torture, extra-judicial abductions and killings as well as its role in the forced repatriation of Hmong refugees and the brutal persecution of Lao student dissidents and religious believers, especially minority Christians,” Smith observed.

“The Medal of the Order of Australia is the principal and most prestigious means of recognizing outstanding members of the community at a national level and nominations are encouraged from all members of the Australian public,” states the Australian Honours Secretariat of the Australian government.

"I am grateful to be a recipient of this award and hope that the human rights conversation continues to strengthen throughout the world,” said Mrs. Danes.  “Human rights are the foundation of civil societies and set the guidelines on how we ought to act towards one another.”

Danes states further: “My long-standing relationship with the Centre for Public Policy Analysis and in particular, with Mr. Philip Smith, has very much played an important part of this award to which I am recognized today. Together, and with other humanitarians and U.S. Government officials, we hope to secure greater human rights freedoms for the thousands of those still oppressed by totalitarian regimes."

Queensland’s Bayside Bulletin and The Redland Times (Fairfax Media Limited – Australia) helped to announce the news of the award today and cited Danes’ “…passion for social justice.”

“The Lao and Hmong community are very pleased and also grateful to Kay Danes, and her husband Kerry Danes, for their important human rights and humanitarian work,” said Sheng Xiong, of St. Paul, Minnesota, whose husband was also imprisoned and tortured in Phonthong Prison along with other Hmong-Americans.

“We want to thank Kay Danes for helping to bring awareness about terrible human rights violations in Laos and the suffering in the prisons, detention centers and refugee camps of Laos, including Phonthong prison; We commend Australia’s government, and Queen Elizabeth II, for awarding the Medal of the Order of Australia to Mrs. Danes,” said Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos (ULDL).

Two Lao-American members of the ULDL from St. Paul, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, who participated in public policy events with Kay Danes in Washington, D.C., disappeared last year in Savannakhet Province, Laos and are feared dead in an incident involving Lao security and military forces.  Three Lao-Americans were traveling together during the incident including Souli Kongmalavong, Mr. Bounma Phannhotha and Mr. Bounthie Insixiengmai.

Kay Danes has authored several books on human rights violations in Laos and the plight of foreign prisoners unjustly abused, tortured and killed abroad including: Standing Ground and Families Behind Bars.  Philip Smith was asked to write the preface and Foreword to her most recent book, Standing Ground (2009, New Holland Publishers Australia).

According to the Australian government, the Order of Australia also serves to define, encourage and reinforce community standards, national aspirations and ideals by acknowledging actions and achievement and thereby identifying role models.  The award was established by the Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth nations, Elizabeth II.  Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the Sovereign Head of the Order.

Jade Her, Maria Gomez or Philip Smith
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