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Sweden: Tucholsky Award fitting tribute to Chinese-born Swedish publisher Gui Minhai

Thursday 14 November 2019 - 9:46am

Publisher and PEN member Gui Minhai

The PEN International community wholeheartedly supports Swedish PEN’s decision to bestow their annual Tucholsky Award upon Chinese-born Swedish publisher – and PEN International main case – Gui Minhai, said PEN International today in response to the fierce objection of the Chinese Embassy in Sweden.

This is not the first time that the Chinese regime has tried to intimidate those highlighting the egregious case of injustice against Gui Minhai. No matter what coercive measures the Chinese authorities employ, they cannot erase the facts of this case: Gui Minhai was kidnapped, disappeared for several months, forced into three televised confessions and remains in prison today, simply for publishing books critical of the Chinese authorities. We fully support Swedish PEN and its decision to award Gui Minhai the Tucholsky Award and are appalled that they have faced threats by the Chinese Embassy in response to that decision.’ - said PEN International President Jennifer Clement.

Named for German writer Kurt Tucholsky – who fled Nazi Germany to Sweden in the 1930s – the Tucholsky award is given by Swedish PEN to a writer or publisher who faces persecution or has been forced into exile. Previous recipients have included, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen and Svetlana Alexievich, to name but a few.

On 4 November 2019, Swedish PEN announced Chinese-born Swedish publisher Gui Minhai as the 2019 recipient in recognition of his work as a publisher in Hong Kong and the persecution that he has faced as a result.

Following Swedish PEN’s announcement, the Chinese embassy to Sweden issued the following statement:

‘As is known to all, Gui Minhai is a criminal who has committed serious offences in both China and Sweden. He is a lie-fabricator and rumor-spreader. Svenska PEN, out of ulterior political agenda and consistent biases and hostility against China, awards Gui Minhai the 2019 Tucholsky Prize, which is not only a sheer farce, but also a mockery of genuine freedom of speech and a slap in the face of Svenska PEN itself.

'The producers of this farce ignore the will of Gui Minhai himself, and act on their own wishful thinking, self-righteousness and arrogance. They will surely suffer the consequences of their own actions. We ask the producers of this farce to get out of the trap of narcissism, and immediately cancel the award to Gui Minhai and to stop politicizing the case. We call on relevant parties and the Swedish people not to be deceived and coerced by the Svenska PEN and a few anti-China elements, and not to support this farce.’

PEN International condemns the veiled threats emitted by the Chinese Embassy in Sweden against Swedish PEN and calls once again on the Chinese authorities to release Gui Minhai immediately and unconditionally.