Vietnamese publisher named as 2020 Prix Voltaire winner

Vietnamese publisher named as 2020 Prix Voltaire winner

Vietnam's Liberal Publishing House has been announced as this year's International Publisher's Association's Prix Voltaire laureate, which celebrates presses that publish work despite pressure and intimidation from authority,.

The press was established last year by activists in Saigon, and is currently the only independent publisher in Vietnam. It is forced to operate clandestinely owing to the government’s crackdown on what it considers “anti-state” activity.

The IPA felt that "the individuals behind Liberal Publishing House have put themselves at great risk in order to enable others to exercise their right to freedom of expression".

Kristenn Einarsson, chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee, said: "The work of Liberal Publishing House in Vietnam as guerrilla publishers, making books available in a climate of intimidation and risk for their own personal safety is nothing short of inspirational. The international publishing community recognises their bravery and will support them however we can."

Liberal Publishing House will receive 10,000 Swiss francs (£8,252) as the new laureate. 

In a recorded video message, author and journalist Pham Doan Trang, acting as a spokesperson of the press, said: "The men and women who work for the Liberal Publishing House every day risk their safety, their freedom and even their lives altogether just to publish books. The award that we receive today does not just recognise our tireless efforts but it represents the bravery of tens of thousands of Vietnamese readers who have been harassed, who have been arrested and interrogated simply for reading our books."

The 2019 Prix Voltaire was awarded to Khaled Lotfy, founder of Cairo's Tanmia Bookshop and Publishing.