Standing Ground: Kay Danes tours U.S., Elucidates Laos, Hmong Gulag in New Book
“The ordeal of Kerry and Kay Danes in the mysterious and exotic land of Laos is, perhaps most importantly, a unique human saga of love, courage, honor, heroism and the triumph of hope in the face of overwhelming odds against a ruthless Stalinist regime.” - Philip Smith, Executive Director, Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C.
(PressZoom) - Washington, D.C., April 2, 2009 - Australian author Kay Danes has received a special invitation to speak at the prestigious World Affairs Conference in Boulder, Colorado, from April 6-10, 2009.
Mrs. Danes is also slated to speak at events in Washington, D.C. later this month. She is an invited keynote speaker at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. and U.S. Congress on April 16-17 regarding human rights violations and political prisoners in Laos and the plight of thousands of Laotian and Hmong refugees in Thailand and Laos. http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1088730.html
Last month, Kay Danes' latest book, "Standing Ground," was release in Australia about her plight in Laos. www.kaydanes.com
Philip Smith, Executive Director for the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C., and a former U.S. Congressional adviser for national security and foreign policy issued the following statement regarding Kay and Kerry Danes new book “Standing Ground”:
"Readers of the amazing story of Kerry and Kay Danes in Laos will find it a compelling, richly inspiring and fascinating saga. The unique strategic role of Laos, both during the Vietnam War and presently, makes this book all the more interesting and important. Standing Ground helps to elucidate the dark and despotic nature of the current government of Laos, the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR).
The ordeal of Kerry and Kay Danes in the mysterious and exotic land of Laos is, perhaps most importantly, a unique human saga of love, courage, honor, heroism and the triumph of hope in the face of overwhelming odds against a ruthless Stalinist regime. Stripped of their honor, dignity, and fundamental liberties while working as security managers in Laos, Kerry and Kay Danes are forced to undergo a dark journey into a corrupt and brutal prison and gulag system.
This same one-party, authoritarian regime in Laos which abducted and brutalized Kerry and Kay Danes is currently engaged in a large-scale Darfur and Bosnia-like campaign of mass starvation and military attacks directed against thousands of family members of Lao and Hmong-Americans. The United States and the international community should heed the warnings about the serious nature and scope of this problem. They should more carefully consider the national security, foreign policy and humanitarian implications and risks of the LPDR regime as an oppressive communist military junta closely allied with brutal dictatorships in Burma, North Korea and elsewhere, which it is.
Standing Ground is especially crucial reading for Americans and others who may be considering traveling, vacationing or investing in Laos. It is also an important book for those in America and those in the international community with concerns about foreign aid and investment, economic development, human rights, religious persecution, national security, trade and travel. The Danes’ careful documentation of their case in this important book underscores the need for extraordinary and difficult measures by governments to protect the lives of their citizens abroad, to stop violations of human rights and to uphold international law.
As a U.S. Congressional adviser for national security and foreign policy issues, I became engaged on issues regarding Laos after organizing a number of Congressional research missions to Lao and Hmong refugee camps along the Mekong River on the Thailand-Laos border during the 1980s and early 1990s to investigate and document human rights violations and forced repatriation. During this same period, among other responsibilities, as a staff liaison to the Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the U.S. House of Representatives, I also focused on security and human rights issues regarding Eastern Europeans, including the plight of religious and political dissidents.
From 1993 to the present, in my capacity as the Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), which is a non-profit research organization focused on national security and foreign policy issues in Washington, D.C., I have continued to focus on policy issues regarding Laos and the tragic plight of Laotian and Hmong people, including refugees and political prisoners.
I first met Kay Danes in Washington, D.C. in 2002 when she was invited to testify and speak with Members of Congress before a special session of the U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos held in the U.S. House of Representatives. Many in Washington, D.C. and the United States were very impressed by her extraordinary grace and courage as she told us about harrowing accounts of her experiences in Laos.
Like the voices of prisoners of conscience, from Andrei Sakharov to Alexander Solzenitsyn, who bravely endured the horrific cruelties of the Soviet gulag system during Stalinist times, Kerry and Kay Danes’ experience in Laos has borne witness to the injustices and evil nature of a corrupt regime in violation of international law. The Danes have become a voice for the voiceless and suffering people in Laos.
Laos, a small, landlocked Asian nation, still largely unknown to many people around the world was once whispered in hushed voices in Washington, D.C.’s corridors of power. U.S. Presidents, beginning with President John F. Kennedy along with senior policymakers in the U.S. Congress, the Pentagon, the State Department and elsewhere, viewed the Kingdom of Laos, Lan Xang, the Kingdom of a Million Elephants, as one of the keys to America’s and the West’s security and foreign policy interests.
Like Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, the country of Laos was once centre stage in the White House, in a crisis period that helped shape the course of world events in a major way. President John F. Kennedy established Laos as a priority for U.S. and Western allied clandestine and military operations during the period of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Berlin Wall in hopes of establishing a ‘third option’ by recruiting indigenous tribal guerilla forces largely composed of ethnic Hmong and Laotians to avoid a East-West nuclear conflagration or conventional third world war. Laos remained the largest covert operation in America’s history, in terms of budget and duration, prior to the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Laos prior to the communist take-over in 1975, had a rich and ancient history, culture, religion and people. A largely peaceful and tranquil Buddhist nation ruled by a revered monarchy, it was best described as a kingdom paradise blessed with abundance and long periods of peace, until the violation of Laos’ neutrality by North Vietnam and the establishment of the Ho Chi Minh Trail by the North Vietnamese Army that led to the U.S. clandestine and military intervention.
America still owes a debt of honour and has a special moral obligation to many freedom-loving Laotians and Hmong who are veterans, or descendants of veterans, who served with U.S. military and clandestine forces during the Vietnam War. As a former Australian Special Air Services (SAS) Kerry Danes, and his courageous wife understand the full meaning of the word honor and the moral obligation to friends and former allies.
Tragically, as the Danes story in many ways foreshadows, since the unlawful and brutal arrest of Kerry and Kay, the LPDR regime has intensified its military and security forces’ attacks against its own people and continues to engage in widespread human rights violations. In recent years, the LPDR regime has murdered dissidents abroad in Thailand, arrested and unlawfully detained Americans visiting Laos (including Mr. Hakit Yang and two other Hmong American citizens), and is currently engaged in a Bosnia and Darfur-like campaign of ethnic cleansing and mass starvation against thousands of Hmong and Laotians seeking refuge in the jungles and mountains of Laos. These human rights violations have been documented by Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, independent humanitarian and human rights organizations and advocates, dissidents, independent journalists and others.
In writing Standing Ground, Kerry and Kay Danes will help to inspire and strengthen the moral authority and courage needed by dissidents, journalists, activists and student and religious leaders seeking to challenge the despotic one party regimes in Laos and other countries that continue to oppress, imprison and murder their own citizens and visiting foreigners who inconveniently get in their way. The freedom-loving people of Laos deserve a government that will provide an open-society, transparency, basic human rights and economic prosperity.
Standing Ground serves as powerful testimony to those who share these aspirations for the people of Laos and other countries facing a similar plight. Kerry and Kay Danes have demonstrated their exception courage to stand up to tyranny, speak truth to power, and help those suffering under the most difficult of circumstances in Laos and other countries.
Standing Ground brings hope and dignity to those who have been stripped of these most fundamental and important elements of our humanity."
(end statement--Philip Smith, Executive Director, Center for Public Policy Analysis, Washington, D.C.---)
Contact: Maria Gomez
Center for Public Policy Analysis 2020 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Suite No.#212 Washington, D.C. 20006 USA
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