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THE DANES STORY
Kay locks down to help refugees
By Debbie White Tuesday, 6 September 2005

KAY Danes with papers from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade documenting negotiations carried out to secure her and her husband's release from a Laos prison. The insight into what happened behind the scenes at Federal Government level has helped Kay, who has written a new book, "Laos Lockdown".
LAO refugees call her "Nang", Sister Kay, a term of reverence for someone toiling to "open the ear of the world" to their suffering.

Wellington Point woman Kay Danes is doing her utmost to "make a difference" not only for those fleeing the communist regime, but, closer to home, by supporting the families of some of the Bali Nine and Schapelle Corby.

As a family advocate for the Foreign Prisoner Support Service Kay has also, unsuccessfully, attempted to contact the family of Wellington Point man Tach Duc Thanh Nguyen, one of nine Australians arrested in Bali for allegedly trafficking heroin.

The invaluable support she and husband Kerry received from fellow Aussies and the Australian Government when snatched and wrongfully detained in Laos convinced Kay of her need to work as a humanitarian.

While nearly four years has passed since the Daneses were released thanks to Federal Government intervention, brutal prison treatment is forever etched on Kay's mind.

Intensive negotiations for their freedom are recorded on about 1000 documents given to Kay by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, alluded to in her new tell-all book, "Laos Lockdown", being published next year. There is also talk of a film.

When not appealing to the US Congress to help liberate communist Laos, Kay gives public speeches and regularly appears on radio and television. She wants to keep the public spotlight on the landlocked country, having witnessed "hideous violations" during their 10-month imprisonment on charges of taking sapphires.

She keeps in contact with many refugees, including exiled Lao Prince Soulivong Savang, who lives in France.

Interestingly, it took a recent visit to prisoners in Bali to hit home how her own mother had suffered when Kay was in jail.

"For every prisoner (in overseas jails) there is always a mum or dad or family member who is absolutely agonising. People tend to forget that," said Kay.

"Some of the Bali Nine relatives email me, and I share an empathy with what they are going through - you just have to be strong."

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