Vietnam’s “Scrap Paper” Publishing House Wins IPA Freedom to Publish Award

In Global Trade Talk by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

Today at the Buenos Aires Book Fair, the IPA Freedom to Publish Committee and the Board of the IPA have named Bui Chat, a poet and leader of Giay Vun Publishing House (Giay Vun translates as “scrap” or “waste” paper), as winner of the 2011 Freedom to Publish Award. Bui Chat is the pen name of Bui Quang Vien. Born in 1979 in Bien Hoa, he lives in Ho Chi Minh City. A member of the infamous Mo Mieng [Open Mouth] group, in 2004, he and fellow poet Ly Doi were jailed for two days for passing out flyers at a poetry reading cancelled by the police. The house is best known for publishing “underground” collections of colloquial poetry anthologies. A somewhat dated profile of Chat and fellow Vietnamese poets from the BBC in 2004 can be found here.

From Press Release:

The IPA Freedom to Publish Committee and the Board of the IPA have named Bui Chat, a courageous underground publisher in Vietnam, and the leader of Giay Vun Publishing House, as winner of the 2011 Freedom to Publish Award.  Giay Vun is devoted to printing and publishing of the works of Vietnam’s “pavement poets” beyond the reach of censorship authorities.  Under Bui Chat’s leadership, Giay Vun has directly assisted in the establishment in Vietnam of other publishing houses that operate independently and freely, publishing the works of banned authors and historians.

Bjorn Smith-Simonsen, Chair of IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee said: “After almost 10 years of persistent struggle, the publishing house founded by Bui Chat has helped create an independent publishing movement in Vietnam. Under extremely difficult conditions, the Giay Vun publishing house has initiated a new movement of free thinkers, free writers, free artists who refuse to conform to the State rules of creation. It has helped tear down the barriers of censorship. This publishing house and his founder have been able, through their hard work, to restore faith in freedom of expression and freedom to publish in the country’s new generation. They have been able to enhance public awareness of the basic human rights of their fellow citizens: the freedom to think, the freedom to create, the freedom to publish and the freedom to read without fear of persecution. For all the reasons, the international publishing community recognises this courageous publisher today in Buenos Aires, the 2011 World Book Capital”.

In accepting the award on behalf of the readers, colleagues, friends and supporters of Giay Vun, Bui Chat said: “Books have the power to make the world free; freedom for those who publish books, for those who read books, and for those who discuss what books bring to them. We hope this award will be a significant boost to the development of the independent publishing movement and civil society in Vietnam.”

More about the IPA Freedom to Publish Prize:

In 2005 IPA created the IPA Freedom to Publish Prize, a prize designed to honour each year a person or an organisation that has made an important contribution to the defence and promotion of freedom to publish anywhere in the world. While the 2006 IPA Freedom to Publish Prize was awarded to Iranian publisher Shalah Lahiji during the Göteborg Book Fair, the 2007 Prize was awarded to Zimbabwean publisher Trevor N’cube at the Cape Town Book Fair. Special Prizes were also given posthumously to Anna Politkovskaya (Russia) and Hrant Dink (Turkey/Armenia). The 2008 IPA Freedom to Publish Prize was awarded to Turkish publisher Ragıp Zarakolu during the opening ceremony of an international seminar on neo-censorship co-organised in Amsterdam by IPA and Amsterdam 2008 World Book Capital. The 2009 IPA Freedom to Publish Prize was awarded to Sihem Bensedrine, Neziha Rjiba and Mohamed Talbi, founders of the Observatory for the Freedom of the Press, Publishing and Creation in Tunisia (OLPEC), as part of the Global Forum on Freedom of Expression program, a Forum IPA was partner of. In 2010 the IPA Freedom to Publish Prize was awarded to Israpil Shovkhalov, Editor-in-Chief, and Viktor Kogan-Yasny, publisher of the Dosh Magazine on the occasion of the Istanbul Book Fair. Prize-winners receive the sum of 5000 CHF.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.