Prominent Dissident Pham Doan Trang Forced to Give up Her Role in Liberal Publishing House

Prominent dissident Pham Doan Trang and her books printed by LPH


Defend the Defenders, July 10, 2020


Under the increasing pressure of Vietnam’s security forces, prominent dissident Pham Doan Trang has been forced to stop her activities in the unregistered Liberal Publishing House which was honored with Prix Voltaire prize by the International Publishers’ Association for printing and disseminating books of political dissidents.

In her statement posted on her Facebook page, Ms. Trang said her decision was made due to her exhausted health and the constant threat of the police against all members of the publisher. She also said that she consulted other members before making the important decision.

Trang, who was honored with the Reporters Without Borders (RSF)’s  Prize for Impact for her work, said that from July 10 she will not be a member of the Liberal Publishing House and involve in its activities.

She also admits that she is fully responsible for publishing a number of dissident books such Chính trị bình dân (Politics for Everyone), Phản kháng phi bạo lực (Nonviolent struggle), Cẩm nang nuôi tù (Guidelines for visiting prisoners), Politics of a Police State, and Cánh đồng Sênh: Báo cáo về vụ tấn công Đồng Tâm (Senh field: Report on Dong Tam’s attack.

She requests Vietnam’s security forces to stop persecution against other members of the publishers and their families, although she does not expect they will give up chasing them.

Trang said since the Liberal Publishing House’s establishment in February 2019, its members have been under the police’s chase. Two of its members were kidnapped by security officers who took them to police stations where they tortured them physically and mentally. Due to the intensifying crackdown, all members have been forced to go into hiding prior to the last Lunar New Year (early February 2020) in order to maintain publishing activities. They have to move the printing equipment many times from one to another place in order to avoid being tracked by secret agents.

In the past few years, Trang, who also founded the online legal magazine Luat Khoa and edits another web-based rights journal called thevietnamese, has also been relocated a dozen times within the country. She cannot return to her elderly mother’s house in the capital city for years. Her mother is also a subject of police harassment.

Together with several independent civil society organizations such as the unsanctioned Brotherhood for Democracy and Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam, the Liberal Publishing House is the main subject of constant police persecution as the ruling communist party is willing to maintain the country under a one-party regime and request the security forces not to allow the formation of opposition. Although Vietnam has signed a number of international treaties and conventions including the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the regime has never fully implemented its, punishing with severe imprisonments for those who exercise their rights to freedom of assembly, expression, and press.

According to Defend the Defenders’ latest statistics, Vietnam is holding at least 276 prisoners of conscience as of June 30. Most of them have been convicted of or charged with controversial articles in the National Security provisions of the Criminal Code. Hanoi always denies holding prisoners of conscience but only law violators.