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Vietnamese publisher gives away books on democracy

Independent publishing house appeals for funds to help it spread its message of freedom

ucanews.com reporter, Hanoi

ucanews.com reporter, Hanoi

Published: September 03, 2019 10:10 AM GMT

Updated: September 03, 2019 10:15 AM GMT

Vietnamese publisher gives away books on democracy

Books written by Vietnamese activists and former prisoners of conscience are published by the Liberal Publishing House. (Photo courtesy of Liberal Publishing House)

An independent book publisher whose activities have been restricted by Vietnamese police is holding a fundraising campaign to offer free books on democracy to readers.

The Liberal Publishing House, Vietnam’s only independent publisher, will gift two books — “Cam Nang Nuoi Tu” (A Handbook for Families of Prisoners) and “Phan Khang Phi Bao Luc” (A Handbook for Freedom Fighters) — to readers in the next two months.

It expects to give away 2,000 copies of the two books written by famous blogger Pham Doan Trang, who is on the shortlist of 12 nominees for the Press Freedom Awards 2019 announced by Reporters Without Borders on Aug. 28. She is nominated for The Prize for Impact.

The publisher, which tries to spread values of liberty, democracy, human rights and freedom of information, said the books are written in the context of a flagging economy, polluted environment, rampant social injustice and rights violations, and poor quality of life.

It said anyone who speaks out on matters of public concern, shows their displeasure with the government or simply struggles for proper rights is harassed by police.

“The books aim to provide practical knowledge on laws and politics so that people can protect themselves and their relatives and friends from the risk of imprisonment, unjust treatment and persecution,” the publisher said.

The publishing house, which has sold and offered readers thousands of copies of books composed by activists and former prisoners of conscience, said it needs nearly 200 million dong (US$8,650) for its campaign.

“This amount, in all honesty, is too large for an independent, non-profit, recently established publishing house which suffers police raids and attacks,” it said in a statement on Sept. 1.

Liberty, established in February, called on readers and benefactors to “fund our campaign for uncensored publication, for democracy and for freedom in the future.”

The publisher said police had blocked all its bank accounts, stopped its book delivery service and chased shippers.

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“We consequently have to pay the great cost of risky shipping of books to readers. We are aware that difficulty and danger are unavoidable because liberty is not free of charge,” it said.

So far, the publisher has raised US$1,465.

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