Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Belarus: Belarusian publisher wins Freedom to Publish Prize


8 April 2014
International Publishers Association

The 2014 IPA Freedom to Publish Prize has been awarded to Ihar Lohvinau, a publisher from Belarus.

Ihar Lohvinau has received the 2014 IPA Freedom to Publish Prize prize, in recognition of his achievements in defending freedom of expression in Belarus. Since 2000 he has run Lohvinau Publishing House, printing foreign and local works of literature, history, politics and art, with a focus on work by repressed Belarusian writers. His bookshop in Minsk is a vital hub for the country's fragile literary community.

In October 2013, Ihar Lohvinau's publishing licence was withdrawn by Belarus' Ministry of Information after he printed a book containing this photo of a protester who had been assaulted by police. Having lost his licence to publish in Belarus, Ihar Lohvinau is now compelled to publish in exile, from Lithuania.

Ola Wallin, the IPA's Freedom to Publish Chair, said that "withdrawing Lohvinau Publishing House's licence was a political attempt to stifle a creative and courageous publisher and to silence the voice of freedom in Belarus. The IPA Freedom to Publish Prize recognises Ihar Lohvinau's achievements in continuing to publish important work while operating in Europe's last dictatorship."

IPA Secretary General Jens Bammel said that "in numerous countries, people are harassed, prosecuted, jailed, tortured or even killed for what they publish. Ihar Lohvinau's story shows how publishers are at the frontline in the defence of universal human rights. The IPA Freedom to Publish Prize is our opportunity to pay tribute to them."

The Prize was accepted on Ihar Lohvinau's behalf by his daughter Alexandra, during the London Book Fair's International Publishing Industry Excellence Awards.

The IPA Freedom to Publish Prize was created in 2005 to honour an individual or organization that has significantly defended and promoted the freedom to publish. It is the only award that recognizes the contributions of publishers to secure the universal, fundamental right to freedom of expression.

The International Publishers Association is the international federation of national publishers associations, representing all aspects of book and journal publishing from around the world. IPA is an industry association with a human rights mandate. It fights against censorship and promotes copyright, literacy and freedom to publish, around the world.