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Australia Announces Award to Laos, Hmong Human Rights Activist

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Kay Danes is being honored with the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her social justice and human rights work. Danes is an outspoken voice for the victims of extra-judicial abduction, forced disappearance and torture in Laos, where she suffered imprisonment by communist officials as a political prisoner.

“Kay Danes’ determination and courage to give voice to the voiceless has been invaluable in helping to understand the hidden reality surrounding the authoritarian regimes in Laos and Vietnam, especially in light of the abduction of civic activist and Magsaysay Award winner Sombath Somphone by Lao security forces, and the international outcry for his release,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA). http://www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org

“Kay Danes often travels to Washington 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 repeatedly testified about the status of ethnic Hmong refugees facing forced repatriation in Thailand, prisoners tortured in Laos, religious persecution, and Lao- and Hmong-American men from St. Paul, Minnesota, still imprisoned in Laos, including Hakit Yang, Congshineng Yang and Trillion Yunhaison.”

The OAM award is the principal and most prestigious means of recognizing outstanding citizens in Australia. Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, established the OAM.

“Indeed, human rights are the foundation of civil societies and set the guidelines on how we ought to act towards one another,” stated Kay Danes.

"I am grateful to be a recipient of this award and hope that the human rights conversation continues to strengthen throughout the world.

“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 in 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.”

Danes is the author of key books on Laos and foreign prisoners’ abuse.

Smith contributed the preface to Danes’ most recent book, authored with her husband Kerry, “Standing Ground” (New Holland Australia, 2009).

Article by Center for Public Policy Analysis