International publishers have condemned Gui Minhai's second alleged kidnapping and detainment, branding it a "sorry story of intimidation of Hong Kong publishers" and calling for his immediate release.
Speaking for the international publishing community as the world's largest federation of publishers associations, the International Publishers Association (IPA) said the seizure of Gui Minhai "flouts the rule of law and the publisher’s human rights". It also joined calls for "immediate clarity" on the situation of the HK-based Swedish publisher, who was only this month shortlisted for the 2018 IPA Prix Voltaire.
It has been widely reported that Gui, while accompanied by two Swedish diplomats, was snatched from a train bound for Beijing by 10 men in plain clothes on Saturday (20th January). They claimed to be from the police but did not have a warrant.
Gui's daughter, Angela Gui, said she was worried for his health; he was travelling to Beijing to meet with a Swedish doctor, having been diagnosed with a neurological disease, ALS, that has developed since he was first taken into custody in mainland China in 2015.
He and four of his colleagues at the Causeway Bay Bookshop, who were known for publishing and selling books critical of the Chinese political elite, all went missing in autumn 2015. He is the last to have come home.
After two years' detention in mainland China on grounds of a supposed decade-old drink-driving accident, he was officially "released" on 17th October 2017. But, according to his daughter, it is now understood he was not free at all these past few months but under house arrest in a police-managed flat in Ningbo.
Kristenn Einarsson, chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee, commented: "The seizure of Gui Minhai from a train is just another chapter in this sorry story of intimidation of Hong Kong publishers. This is not a spy novel. It is the abuse of a real person’s human rights because of books they have published."
PEN has further joined the chorus of voices on the international stage expressing concern for Gui and urging Chinese authorities to release him.
"Gui Minhai’s disappearance is deeply disturbing," Salil Tripathi, chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee said. "Gui is potentially suffering from a serious degenerative condition and requires medical assessment. The circumstances of his disappearance are troubling and are a legitimate cause for concern, since he had been a victim of enforced disappearance in the past. Once again, we suspect that his detention is connected with his work as a publisher. We call for his immediate release. We urge the Chinese authorities to immediately clarify where and on what grounds he is being held, and to facilitate contact with his family."