Kidnapped bookseller awarded IPA Prix Voltaire

Kidnapped bookseller awarded IPA Prix Voltaire

Missing publisher and bookseller Gui Minhai is being awarded the 2018 IPA Prix Voltaire in honour of "his bravery in continuing to publish despite the risks involved".

The award, intended to support defenders of freedom to publish, will be presented at the International Publishers Congress in New Delhi on 12th February. The decision of the IPA's Freedom to Publish committee follow's Gui's nomination for the 2017 IPA Prix Voltaire last year.

Gui first went missing in October 2015 from his holiday home in Thailand. His publishing house, Mighty Current, and bookshop, the Causeway Bay Bookstore, were known for specialising in books critical of Chinese leadership the IPA termed "fast-moving political potboilers". Gui resurfaced in Chinese custody several months later, having supposedly turned himself in over a decade-old drink-driving traffic accident.

He was officially "released", according to Chinese officials, in October of 2017. But, following a period of doubt over his whereabouts, Swedish authorities reported a second kidnapping in January in which he was snatched from a train. 

Gui contributed to the free circulation of ideas, participating in human rights conferences and sitting on the board of Independent Chinese PEN, according to the IPA, who said his treatment at the hands of the Chinese authorities has had "a chilling effect on Hong Kong’s once vibrant and audacious publishing industry".

Kristenn Einarsson, chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee, said: “The plight of Gui Minhai is an example of the risks some publishers face to bring diverse authors’ voices to the public. It is only right that the publishing community commends him for his bravery, when that bravery has seen him deprived of his freedom.”

José Borghino, IPA secretary general said: “In those places where freedom of speech is repressed, intimidation leads to self-censorship. The situation is critical in many places and it is vital that we support publishers who have the courage to help authors reach an audience under such conditions.”