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IPA condemns detention, ongoing harassment of Freedom to Publish awardee

(IPA/IFEX) - Geneva, 8 June 2011 - The International Publishers Association (IPA) has expressed grave concern that Bui Chat leader of Giay Vun Publishing House and winner of the IPA's 2011 Freedom to Publish Award, has been subject to repeated detention and harassment since his return to Vietnam from accepting the award on 30 April. On 8 June this escalated into a physical attack on Bui Chat by a group of assailants.

Bui Chat was again temporarily detained on 5 and 6 June 2011, the day he was invited to attend the Swedish National Day Celebrations at the invitation of the Swedish Embassy in Vietnam. Sadly, his temporary arrest prevented him from attending this official function. He was detained for 24 hours at 4 Phan Dang Luua detention centre for interrogation over serious crimes, and was then released. Bui Chat was then ordered to return for a new interrogation session on 7 June. On 8 June this escalated into a physical attack on Bui Chat by a group of assailants. The attack, the series of temporary arrests, the surveillance and the continued interrogation sessions amount to harassment, violate the international rule of law, and clearly contradict Bui Chat's basic human rights. IPA therefore calls on the Vietnamese authorities for his final and permanent release, the return of his Award and Prize certificate, and the assurance that no criminal or administrative charges will be pressed against him.

IPA remains fully mobilized. It continues to liaise with the relevant authorities to facilitate Bui Chat's final and complete release. The IPA continues to call upon governments and advocates for human rights and freedom of expression to join publishers in calling for Bui Chat's final and complete release, and for the Vietnamese authorities to stop harassing him.

Bjorn Smith-Simonsen, Chair of IPA's Freedom to Publish Committee, declared: "IPA condemns the latest physical attack and temporary detention of Bui Chat the day he was invited to attend the National Day reception at the Swedish Embassy in Vietnam. The physical attack, the various temporary detentions, the surveillance and the continued interrogation sessions the recipient of the 2011 IPA Freedom to Publish Prize has been subjected to since his return to Vietnam on 30 April, amount to harassment, violate the international rule of law, and clearly contradict Bui Chat's basic human rights. At a time when the ASEAN Human Rights mechanism is taking shape, we urge the Vietnamese authorities to release Bui Chat definitely and permanently and not to press any criminal charges against him, nor to sue his publishing house Giay Vun (Scrap paper) for publishing without a permit. His IPA prize and award certificate should also be returned to him".

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To read the full press release, click here

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