The only unregistered publishing house in Vietnam has published a banned book as part of efforts to fight government censorship. On May 25, Liberal Publishing House officially published free online copies of the book about Communist Party chief and President Nguyen Phu Trong titled “Heaven-sent to administer justice or hell-sent to destroy morality?” The publisher said the publication of the book banned by the government was done at the request of Ten Lua Publishing House, which published the book in 2019. The book’s author Pham Thanh was arrested by police in Hanoi on May 21 for producing, restoring and spreading anti-state information and material. Police searched his house and took away 13 copies of the book, which is believed to be main reason he was detained. The politically sensitive book consists of 90 online articles criticizing Trong’s attitude and actions supporting the neighboring communist Chinese government. The book also includes comments from readers.
The publisher, whose staff and readers have been constantly harassed by police, said it wanted to help Thanh spread the book to the public, especially those who followed his blog Ba Dam Xoe, which was controlled by police after his arrest. He has been detained at the crowded detention center of Hoa Lo in the capital. Online copies of the book have been requested by many people, it said. By publication of the book, the publisher, which publicizes books composed by activists and former prisoners considered politically sensitive to the government, stated that it “always stands by independent writers who bravely fight against censorship and the tyrannical government.” On May 26, the publisher chose independent journalist Pham Doan Trang as its official representative to help develop and advertise its products to the public. Trang, also a staunch advocate for human rights and democracy, is the author of influential and best-selling books including Chinh Tri Binh Dan
(Politics for the Common People), Cam Nang Nuoi Tu
(A handbook for families of Prisoners) and Phan Khang Phi Bao Luc
(A Handbook for Freedom Fighters). She has also served as the publisher’s adviser since it was established in 2019. Trang, a 42-year-old blogger, said she is happy to work for a publisher that promotes freedom of thought, learning and expression in the dangerous and challenging situation. She also admitted that she will face a high risk because the limited freedom in Vietnam will get tighter ahead of the Communist Party's congress in January 2021. Trang, who works as an editor of Luat Khoa Tap Chi, an online magazine which provides basic knowledge on laws and human rights, said she plans to publish one or two more books this year.
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