“‘never give up hope, even when it seems hopeless,’ they said” – chapter 10, ‘Innocence Lost’.

2009 publication.

Engaging read, if you give it a chance beyond the first few pages. It’s in a personal narrative style so there’s no creative hook at the start. But the unfolding series of events was intriguing. In the end, Kay Dane does make a compelling case that they have been wronged, willfully imprisoned and extorted by Laos government officials.

Story of an Australian couple, kerry and kay danes, and their year-long imprisonment in Laos. Written by the wife, Kay (33 at the time of her ordeal). They were embroiled in a power struggle of a sapphire mine in Laos, of which they were made scapegoats.

Husband was ex-SAS. Took up a job managing a security services company in Laos. Family moved to Laos. Wrote that life in Laos was dangerous and yet offered new perspectives to their children.

Description of the ways there was corruption among staff and blatant extortion by Laos government officials.

Expanding their security/ personnel protection business to Thailand.

Corruption and theft by employees, in spite of higher salaries.

Embroiled in a dispute between client company and local dissidents. Hints of criminal associations and potential inside betrayal. Increased tensions and risk to personal safety.

Kerry’s creative and steadfast resolve to overcome problems. But an unappreciative and unsympathetic head office.

Dispute comes to a head; seizure by Laos government of client premises and property. Kerry concludes business/ security services. Death threats. Kay deciding to relocate to Thailand. Reported by government planted spy.

Kerry taken into custody; Kay arrested at the border; unexplained charges.

Sending the children, 11 and 9, back to Australia.

Kay summarily incarcerated in prison. No charges read. Husband whereabouts unknown. Fear, uncertainty and despair. Unsympathetic guards, cruelty. Meeting cell mates. Knowledge that husband was alive. First meeting.

Kindness from fellow prisoners.

*”you do not let them see you are scared, Kay,” she said.*

Showing a guard sincerity and kindness.
Friendships among prisoners.
Death of a fellow foreigner detainee.

“life In Laos is cheap”

Media reports, inaccuracies, lies, family’s attempts at public support. Australian government into the fray.

Unexpected appointment as the prison doctor.

False promises all round.
Laos Vice-minister officially appointed to look into the case.
Settling into a sense of normalcy.
New prisoners.
An unexpected chance to speak to her own children.
International press attention. Foreign investments to Laos somewhat stalled.
Bombings and signs of continued armed confrontation within Laos.
Seemingly unending delays, false claims, stalling for time.

Sixteen weeks since their detention without trial.
Intervention by the Australian prime minister. Diplomatic channels.
Gradual letters from home. Badminton in the prison.
Unexpected treat: ice cream!

Yet another lot of foreign prisoners. Torture.

Catching a bird. Setting it free.

Court date.
A friend risking his safety to testify for them.
Danger in the night.

Outpour of international support. Detractors also.

Showdown in court.
Conviction.
Incredulity.
Anger. Despair.

Dignity.

Finally,
Freedom. Farewell.
Free, but not completely.

Closure.

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