Four words come to my mind when I think of Kay Danes, they are, Strength, Integrity, Justice and Courage. She is an exemplary speaker who heightens the frequency of the human conscience through her presentations. Kay Danes is engaging from the moment she speaks and immediately takes her audience on a journey into the deepest thoughts, feelings and experiences of people, the world over, who have been silenced through fear, injustice and those who have been disempowered by traumatic events.
Kay's experiences as a former political prisoner give her an insight that few have and because of this, Kay is obviously compelled to offer assistance to others in need. It is apparent that human right violations and social injustices affect her profoundly but she speaks with authenticity and conviction whilst at the same time, allows her audience to draw their own conclusions. Kay has a quiet strength, an incorruptible sense of integrity, a profound sense of justice and fearlessness in seeking to build a better world.
Kay's diplomatic efforts have earned her the respect, and the ear of, some of the world's most prominent individuals and government figures. She has put the face on human rights in both Australia and Internationally. The manner Kay presents herself ensures the gentle truth behind her words can be heard - striking at the hearts and consciences of people who could not otherwise be reached. The amount of advancement in human rights Kay has been able to achieve in the 5 years since she gained her freedom from communist Laos has been nothing short of astounding.
I convened a Community Forum: Transcending Abuse, for which, Kay kindly agreed to be our opening speaker. Within minutes, Kay captured the audiences' attention and held it throughout. She set an exceptionally productive, constructive tone for the entire event. I was not at all surprised, when after the event I was contacted by numerous audience members who were deeply affected by Kay's life-changing, thought-provoking messages, wanting to know more about what they could do in their community to help others. Kay stimulates community spirit and arouses the determination to make the world a better place for all.
I believe Kay Danes is destined to continue to change the world in very positive ways.
President of the Redland Family Support Initiative
During 2005 and 2006 I have been in occasional contact with Kay Danes in relation to advocacy issues. In November of 2006 I met with Kay Danes personally and attended a Tertiary institution seminar in Queensland, Australia where Kay was an invited guest speaker. It was clearly evident that Kay Danes' dedication for the deliverance of equitable justice for human rights, is testimonial to her determination to advocate and personally assist individuals and communities whom are at risk of harm at an international level.
Kay Danes voluntary commitment and dedication extends to those incarcerated in foreign prisons and who suffer deprivation of rights and may be subjected to abuse. This voluntary assistance and support Kay extends to the families of those persons held in a foreign prison.
I encourage humanitarian sectors and Tertiary institutions to invite Kay Danes as a specialist speaker to increase knowledge of foreign humanitarian processes and to heighten the awareness of humanitarian issues that many people may not know exist. Kay has credibility, integrity and represents the epiphany of human spirit and personal courage that she has earned through personal experience.
Russell. S. Treweek
Dip. Community Welfare Work (Aust)
Advocate for Child Protection.
Kay Danes is testimony to resilience, dedicating a great deal of her life to advocating human rights for people all over the world. Her experiences in the Laos jail changed her life forever but in helping others, Kay accepts her vulnerability in reliving her trauma. She has learned that coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), can be a daily challenge.
Kay has turned what for many would have been a totally debilitating experience, to a reflection of strength and determination to make a difference. She is an example of the power of one, of intelligent advocacy and dogged determination to make change.
Queensland Safe Communities Support Centre (QSCSC)
Many thanks for making yourself available to talk to our staff about some of your unforgettable experiences and of the work that you are now dedicated to for the benefit of all people, particularly those in unfortunate circumstances of oppression and fear. We wish you well and in our own efforts to help the poor in our neighborhood, we feel a certain amount of empathy and concern. Hopefully those in need, be it political, material even spiritual, will feel the helping hand of good people. May your work be a constant challenge as well as a source of great satisfaction.
Brother Brian Cunningham
Boystown Family Care (Qld)
For Laotians all over the free world Kay Danes is a household word. We speak of her with affection, a sense of gratitude and hope. The sad and frightening story of how Kerry and Kay Danes fell victims to and suffered under the lack of justice and rule of law in the Lao People's Democratic Republic [Lao PDR] is familiar to many of us who care about human rights. It is a story of arbitrary arrest, detention without charge, trial without due process, horrendous prison conditions, brutal inhumane treatment of prisoners and torture, which has, over the last three decades under a one-party dictatorship, grossly violated the human rights of thousands of people, Laotians and foreigners alike.
The interest of the international press in the Danes case did raise public awareness but it was not until Kay launched herself wholeheartedly to right those wrongs that the human rights situation in the Lao PDR became visible on the radar screen of world policy makers. No sooner than she regained freedom, Kay began helping her fellow political prisoners through a the Foreign Prisoner Support Service. It is a major link among human rights movements around the world.
Despite the risk of personal safety and the personal expense of energy, time and money and despite the painful memory of her ordeal, Kay travelled to Washington DC  to help Lao freedom and human rights organizations around the world to establish our Organization, ULAC, as a coordinating center. Through the US and international media, Kay let the world as well as the US Congress in on the terrible secretive abuses going on in Laos. One year later, Kay travelled across the world to follow up with the US Congress to plead the case for victims of human rights abuses in the Lao PDR. She tirelessly presented the case with the State Department, including the US Ambassador to the Lao PDR, Mr. Douglas Hartwick. She went knocking on doors of members of both the House and Senate. Apart from Kay Danes' tenacious commitment and personal sacrifice, what is so extraordinary about her advocacy is that she is dedicating her energy, efforts and activities totally to other victims, those she has bonded with whom she calls 'kin and friends' as well as those she never met.
In her public statements as well as private conversation, the words she spoke were often accompanied by tears. They were tears of compassion and tears of urgent concern for others who are languishing in the Lao gulags without any future. Those of us who have come in touch with her, love and admire and think of her most for this. Kay Danes is not a fire-breathing podium-thumping advocate for human rights. She tells it like it is, quietly, and straight from the heart. To her, victims of human rights are not statistics for debate and analysed in public forums, hearings, and the media. To her they are, each and everyone, persons, human beings with dignity, capable of feeling pains and humiliations. They all are her brothers and sisters. For lack of a better phrasing, Kay has put the faces on human rights abuse in the Lao PDR.
I and my fellow Laotians both in and out of Laos, firmly believe that Kay Danes is the most effective mover we have as an ally in our long-standing struggle to give back the dignity and fundamental rights of our fellow Laotians.
Dr. Sin Vilay
United Lao Action Centre [ULAC]
We of the Lao Nationalist Reform Party, offer our profound thanks and grateful appreciation to Kay Danes for traveling to the United States, Washington DC, and giving such a moving testimony at the US Congressional Forum for Democracy and Economic Development for Laos, Oct 1, 2002.
Lieutenant Colonel Khambang Sibounheuang
Party Leader Lao Nationalist Reform Party
As we know, Kay Danes has personally experienced unlawful imprisonment in Laos. From her personal experience, and her commitment to help others in similar situations, Kay contributes greatly to the awareness and understanding of people suffering throughout the world, particularly those behind the razor wire and prisons without bars. Kay's message will pierce through even the hardest heart and the soul of her audience.
Dr Pao Saykao (M.B.; B.S.)
Our thoughts turn gratefully to those who have made our progress possible. And in this spirit we say, simply but sincerely thank you and best wishes. Thank you very much for your kind regards and good wishes for our democratic movement. For us here in the US, we are following up on the new sanctions against the military regime, and other tough measures, such as bringing Burma issue before the UN Security Council. We deeply appreciate your support and solidarity. Thanks a lot.
Steven H. Moe
National Coalition Group for the Union of Burma - Washington, DC
Kay Danes writes about the foul and appalling conditions in the jail inhabited by both Laotian nationals and foreign prisoners. She recounts witnessing the effects of senseless and brutal psychological and physical torture and the complete disregard for human rights. This information is unsettling with its implications of the lack of assistance and justice for foreign prisoners. The desperation of many of the inmates, whose crimes were often minor or manufactured, lends an urgent intensity to the writing.
Kay Danes writes of the unwavering resolve of her husband, and of her frustrated but gritty manoeuvring to improve conditions in the jail. All of this occurs during a desperate time, of isolation far from children, family and friends. Kay gives due credit to the efforts of her father, the diplomatic approaches by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Australia and the Herculean task of the senior members of the Australian Embassy in Laos, which eventually brought about their release.
In the conclusion, Danes writes of the promise made to prisoners to work for their rights after she has gained her freedom. She relates some of the successes she has had since that time and of some of the extraordinary reconciliations brought about by her efforts on behalf of foreign prisoners.
Gina Louis, Author and Talent Agent (Australia)
Reader Book Reviews
‘It’s a shame so much reporting is done on Afghanistan and so little of it is from the Afghans’ point-of-view. Thank God for brave people like Kay Danes who dare to venture beyond the safe zones to tell the stories of those who matter most in Afghanistan’ – Josh Rushing co-host Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines Series, bestselling author Mission Al-Jazeera
Beneath the Pale Blue Burqa: "A brave book written by a brave woman, but it is the courage of the Afghan women in the face of so many social atrocities that tugs at the heart and makes one reflect on the many aspects of the desperate situation that exists in that country. Nothing brings it home more than the words of those that are living the nightmare. Kay brings the confronting issue of what is happening to the Afghan people, and most particularly to its women, well and truly to the fore in a way that’s not been done before. A very thought provoking book" – Yasmine Grey, Director, Gray Media Services
“In a country with few paved roads, a dirt poor, illiterate population blighted with poverty, disease, and violence, it is rare to find foreign reporters who will work outside the safe bubble of Kabul. As a result, Afghanistan’s people, culture, and traditions remain unknown to the world, or reduced to crude stereotypes. Kay Danes is one the few internationals who are determined to make a difference and brave enough to go outside the international “security bubble” to see for herself how the ordinary Afghans are fairing in post Taliban Afghanistan. She brings us back a delightful, informative story with wit, charm, a little humour and a lot of important information. One can only hope there are more people like her setting their sights on making a difference in difficult lands like Afghanistan.”
– Tim Lynch, Vigilant Strategic Service Afghanistan.
"Kay writes from the heart, and her experience of life as a prisoner in Laos makes compelling reading."- Margaret Reynolds, National President United Nations of Australia
This book reinforces the belief shared by a number of Western embassies here that the Lao regime includes some ugly figures, not much better than the generals in Rangoon. A book like this, exposing the dark underbelly of Laos, is a stark contrast to the country's tourist promotions and the gentle manner of the bulk of its people. In the beginning one gets the impression that Kay Danes is playing a game with soldiers, blissfully unaware of the risks. At the end of the 10-month confinement and separation from her young children, she seems close to emotional breakdown. But you fully understand why she is campaigning on behalf of those suffering such outrageous cruelty and neglect in Asian jails.
Paul O'Brien, United Kingdom
What a compelling story. It is the realisation of every parent's worst fears and nightmares--being taken away from your children and left in a place that seems alien and cruel. The horrifying accounts of cruelty and suffering shocked me. I felt that one of the strongest elements of the book was the author's realisation of the extent to which the people suffer, particularly the Hmong, and the determination that grew in her to help tell their story. This book appeals to anybody who has ever felt fear--and that is everybody. It's about losing everything but the support of family and friends, and realising that that is the most valuable thing any of us can have. It has drama, action, political intrigue, tension, sorrow and joy, and is at its centre an inspirational story about never giving up, and fighting for what you believe in. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Jenny Robertson, United Kingdom
Kay and Kerry Danes story is an extraordinary journey. What they experienced as innocent people is dismaying. What other people incarcerated with them on false or no charges, was disturbing. As was the plight of political prisoners who simply, for having an opinion, are made to suffer through the most awful treatment; and for those prisoners who are guilty of crimes, there is still no excuse for denying them basic human rights. I will not forget this story or the wonderful characters that Kay encountered. I hope one day that there will be a time when no-one has to suffer, as they are, such violations of human rights.
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia