Vietnamese Security Forces Intensify Persecution against Liberal Publishing House after Publisher Awarded with IPA’s Prix Voltaire 2020

Prominent dissident and blogger Pham Doan Trang and her books printed by LPH


Defend the Defenders, June 5, 2020


Vietnam’s security forces have intensified crackdown on the staff of the unregistered Liberal Publishing House (LPH) after the dissident publisher was awarded Prix Voltaire 2020 by the International Publishers’ Association (IPA), Defend the Defenders has learned.

Prominent dissident Pham Doan Trang, the key person of the publisher, is the most wanted by Vietnam’s security forces. Police have been chasing her for months but until now, she is still free but has to go into hiding and regularly change her location to avoid being traced.

Trang, who was honored by the Reporters Without Border (RSF) last year, reported on her Facebook account that on June 3, a few hours before the LPH’s name was announced as the recipient of the Prix Voltaire 2020 award by the Geneva-based IPA, two security officers from the Ministry of Public Security and the Hanoi City’s Police Department, along with local policemen, went to her mother’s private residence in Hanoi where the 80-year-old woman has lived by herself for the past three years, beginning in July 2017 when Trang was forced to leave Hanoi as she couldn’t live under the watchful eyes and suffocating thumb of the security forces.

When they entered her apartment, they immediately pressured Trang’s mother into an interrogation about her. They gave her a number of questions such as “Where is Trang?” or “Has she kept in touch?”

Along with this, they also filled out a form with the heading “Confirmation that Pham Thi Doan Trang has created, stored, and distributed anti-state materials” and demanded her mother sign it. They tried to persuade her by saying her responses to their questions had nothing to do with any of the “materials,” that this form merely recorded and reflected the fact that she did not know where her child was. Such convincing worked, and they successfully pressured her mother to sign the form.

The police officers also reminded the old lady to let the police know immediately when Trang returns home and “if Trang reaches out, then tell her to report to the police straight away to conduct work.”

Trang predicted that Vietnam’s security forces won’t stop and they may carry out other tricks in a bid to catch her and other staff of the publisher which has printed out dozens of uncensored books from government critics about human rights and democracy.

Vietnam’s communist regime does not tolerate criticism and wants to keep the country under a one-party regime. It has requested its government and the security forces not to allow the formation of political parties and independent civil organizations. After imprisoning a dozen of key members of the unsanctioned Brotherhood for Democracy, the communist regime is arresting two important figures of the unregistered Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN)- President Dr. Pham Chi Dung in November 2019 and Vice President Nguyen Tuong Thuy on May 23. Their next target will be the LPH and its staff.

From the LHP’s establishment in February 2019, the security forces have been restlessly harassing its activities, detaining its shippers, and harassing hundreds of its readers. In October last year, police arrested Vu Huy Hoang, and in May this year, they detained Phung Thuy. In both cases, they took them in police stations where security forces tortured them in a bid to extract the information about the publisher and its key staffs, including Ms. Trang, who has a number of books printed by the publisher and her books are welcomed by readers in the country and abroad.

Trang said many publisher’s staffs have been forced to leave their families to go into hiding. However, they vow to continue their works to bring books from political dissidents to readers.