Legal Initiatives for VIETNAM co-founder Trinh Huu Long expresses his apprehensions on freedom to publish in Vietnam, citing the "untouchables" in Vietnam.  Pham Doan Trang joins the session with a pre-recorded message, as she receives the IPA’s Prix Voltaire, its freedom to publish prize for her courage to o publish works critical of the government and calling for democracy in Vietnam.

Title: Grim picture of publishing in Vietnam
Publish Date: October 18, 2020
Publisher: Nasher News


Trinh Huu Long, editor in chief of Luat Khoa, a Vietnamese language legal magazine, said that there are four “untouchables” in Vietnam.  “You cannot criticize the General Secretary of the Communist Party, the president, the prime minister or the speaker of the House,” he said.  “Everyone fears the government.”

But there was a hint of optimism.  Long noted that change was inevitable. “Vietnam doesn’t have much choice,” he said.  “It will have to open up to democratic countries for economic development, it will have to become more open and respect the rule of law and human rights – it will become a free country in time.”

The session included a moving pre-recorded address by the author and journalist and co-founder of Liberal Publishing House, Pham Doan Trang, who was arrested on 6 October.  She has received the IPA’s Prix Voltaire, its freedom to publish prize, and described in her address the difficulties faced by those who choose to publish work critical of the government or calling for democracy.  “We have to move from place to place, we cannot buy printing machinery because it will be picked up by CCTV, so our publishing is about hand-gluing the books.  Book delivery is dangerous too.  The police can disguised themselves as booksellers and make an arrest.  Two book-shippers were arrested and tortured.”

She concluded her address with these words: “Books are not simply books for us – books mean our lives, books means freedom.”