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Vigil at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2019: “The greatest enemy of freedom of expression is inaction.” #FreeGuiMinhai #FreeHongKong #FreeTheWords

Visitors of the Frankfurt Book Fair gathered with open umbrellas to show solidarity with imprisoned bookseller Gui Minhai and the freedom movement in Hong Kong.
Erstellt am 17.10.2019

Visitors of the Frankfurt Book Fair gathered with open umbrellas / Press photo available at

Visitors of the Frankfurt Book Fair joined forces with Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers and Booksellers Association), Amnesty International, European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF), International Publishers Association (IPA), PEN-Zentrum Germany and PEN International today to send out a clear signal in support of freedom of expression. By gathering with opened umbrellas, the group showed solidarity with the freedom movement in Hong Kong and called for the release of the Hong-Kong-based Swedish-Chinese author, publisher and bookseller Gui Minhai, who was abducted and imprisoned in 2015 after incurring the wrath of the Chinese government for publishing and selling books critical of the regime.

Börsenverein CEO Alexander Skipis said the following at the event: “Freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly are basic human rights and, as such, they are non-negotiable. While citizens in Hong Kong continue to fight for their freedoms, the Chinese regime persists in its efforts to build the perfect dictatorship. This is not something we can accept, nor will we stand idly by without raising our voice. We hereby declare our solidarity with Gui Minhai and the freedom fighters in Hong Kong. We call for the immediate release of the author, bookseller and publisher Minhai, and we also demand freedom for all imprisoned artists and culture professionals worldwide. We call on Germany’s federal government to refuse to subordinate free and democratic values – such as the freedom of expression – to economic interests. We call on the government to take an uncompromising position in support of freedom – in China, in Turkey, in Saudi-Arabia and across the globe. As members of the creative and cultural industries, we carry a special responsibility for society and in particular for the freedom of expression. We call on all of civil society to demand that human rights be respected, so that we can all continue to thrive in the future. This is especially true for the economic and business elite, who would do well to remember that they owe their tremendous wealth of development opportunities to the basic human freedoms that apply in our country. Indeed, the greatest enemy of freedom of expression is inaction”.

In addition to Alexander Skipis, the speakers at today’s event included Lam Wing Kee (Hong-Kong-based bookseller now living in exile), Liao Yiwu (Chinese author, winner of the 2012 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, now living in exile) and Jennifer Clement (President, PEN International).

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