Vietnam cracks down on independent book publisher

Security agencies accused of closing bank accounts, harassing shippers and confiscating publications
Vietnam cracks down on independent book publisher

'A Handbook for Freedom Fighters' provides guidelines for democracy. (Photo courtesy of the Liberal Publishing House) reporter, Hanoi
August 6, 2019
An independent publishing house in Vietnam has pledged to continue delivering its books despite government intimidation.

The Liberal Publishing House said government security agencies have forced local banks to block three of its bank accounts.

“We could not make withdrawals from those accounts but our customers and donors can still make deposits into them,” the publisher said in a statement on Aug. 2.

It also accused police and plainclothes security officers of entrapping and chasing its shippers to confiscate its publications.

The publishing house said the attacks are “a clear sign of interference by the Vietnamese security agencies, who are willing to go to great lengths to secretly disrupt and destroy legitimate activities by independent publishers, authors and journalists.”

“In light of these oppressive actions by the government, we kindly ask our sponsors, donors and readers to stop depositing money into our accounts until further notice,” the statement said.

The police attacks came after the publisher offered 1,000 copies of Phan Khang Phi Bao Luc (A Handbook for Freedom Fighters) and hundreds of copies of Chinh Trị Binh Dan (Politics for the Masses) to readers throughout Vietnam without charge in July.

The first book provides guidelines for democracy and human rights activists to use non-violent resistance in their fight against police crackdowns. The second book is a basic introduction to political science designed to help laypeople understand the internal politics of Vietnam's communist government.

Both books in Vietnamese are written by respected journalist Pham Doan Trang, who said she will use the money from selling her books to support prisoners of conscience and their families.

Vietnam Democracy Radio, run by Vietnamese Americans in the United States, is supporting the publishing house by delivering copies of Phan Khang Phi Bao Luc to Vietnamese abroad.

The book publisher said its free-book initiative aims to raise awareness of human rights, politics and social issues among people so that they can defend themselves from police attacks and take responsibility to build a society of justice and democracy.

It said many people avoid talking about politics in the Southeast Asian country due to fear of government persecution.

Established in February, the Liberal Publishing House, Vietnam’s only independent publisher, publishes books without being censored by the government. Its books are written by well-known journalists, activists and former prisoners of conscience.

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