Swedish free speech honors China dissident publisher

By Lobsang Tenchoe

DHARAMSALA, April 21: Chinese-born scholar and book publisher who was detained in China for publishing books on the personal lives of Communist Party leaders including President Xi Jinping has been awarded prize for free speech and press freedom by a Swedish media organization.

Gui Minhai was awarded the annual Anna Politkovskaya Memorial Prize for challenging the regime’s attempt to scare dissidents from expressing their opinion and standing up for freedom of speech in his native country.

Image: Reuters

“Gui had despite personal risk … shown great courage as a publisher and challenged the narrow-minded political agenda of the Chinese regime,” Publicistklubben; Swedish Publicists’ Association was quoted by Reuters as saying in its report.

Gui, aged 52 is one of the five Hong Kong booksellers who mysteriously disappeared in 2015 and later appeared in mainland Chinese custody. The arrest ignited fears over the collapse of ‘one country, two systems’, the principle on which Hong Kong has been governed as a special administrative region since its return to China from British rule in 1997.

“I am glad that this prize will focus attention on my father’s situation,” the report quoted his Swedish daughter, Angela Guias saying. “Hopefully, more attention … can lead to more information on his situation and health and that (he) will be treated better,” Angela added.

The Chinese authorities are said to have abducted him while on vacation in Thailand. While the four others were released and have since returned to Hong Kong, he still remains in detention at an undisclosed location in china.

China has maintained its law enforcement officials have done nothing illegal with regard to Gui and the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang further remarked that he had no interest in commenting on what non-governmental groups got up to, and that he had no idea about the prize.

Gui Minhai, the prolific author of Chinese politics and political figures has authored around 200 books during his ten-year career under the pen-name Ah Hai.

Swedish Publicists’ Association bestows the award each year in memory of Anna Politkovskaya, a Ukrainian journalist and human rights activist.