Vietnam's Liberal Publishing House has been awarded the 2020 Prix Voltaire from the International Publishers Association. The publishing house was founded in February 2019 in Ho Chi Minh City by a group of dissidents as a direct challenge to the Vietnamese government’s control of the publishing industry. Amnesty International has noted out that the police have questioned and at times detained nearly 100 people for either owning or reading books printed by Liberal Publishing House.
"The work of Liberal Publishing House in Vietnam as guerilla publishers, making books available in a climate of intimidation and risk for their own personal safety is nothing short of inspirational," said Kristenn Einarsson, chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee "The international publishing community recognizes their bravery and will support them however we can."
In a recorded video message, Liberal Publishing House’s spokesperson Pham Doan Trang, a Vietnamese author and journalist, 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 recognize 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 prize, which has been awarded since 2006, honors "exemplary courage in upholding the freedom to publish and in enabling others to exercise their right to freedom of expression." It carries a cash prize of 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,377).
Previous winners of the Prix Voltaire include Egyptian publisher Khaled Lotfy, Swedish Hong Kong publisher Gui Minhai, and Turkish publisher Turhan Günay.