Deutsche Welle International Weblog Awards 2005: Jury protests blocking of Chinese Weblog
Arabic Weblog «Manal and Alaa’s Bit Bucket» wins Special Award from Reporters Without Borders — Announcement comes early in light of United Nations World Information Summit in Tunis.
The 12-member jury of the Deutsche Welle’s 2005 Weblog Awards unanimously condemned the blocking of «Wang Yi’s Microphone» and called on Chinese authorities to end their censorship of Weblogs and the Internet. Failure to declare their protest in light of the World Information Summit from Nov. 16 to Nov. 18 in Tunis, at which a Chinese delegation is expected, would be tantamount to tolerating censorship, the jury members stated.
Wang Yi’s Weblog was among the final three candidates for the Special Award from Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Also among the top three nominees were a blog written by Tunisian judge Mokhtar Yahyaoui and the Egyptian Weblog «Manal and Alaa’s Bit Bucket,» which went on to win the award.
On Oct. 24, 2005, the Deutsche Welle announced the nominees in its annual BOBs — the Best of the Blogs Awards. Shortly after the candidates were announced, access to «Wang Yi’s Microphone,» which was nominated in the Reporters Without Borders and Best Weblog categories, was blocked by local Chinese authorities in the Hai-Nan province.
A lawyer by profession, Wang Yi regularly used his Weblog to criticize the government. His courageous efforts to promote freedom of expression and an independent judiciary system in China were among the reasons why he was nominated in this year’s Deutsche Welle Best of the Blogs awards.
«Bloggers like Wang Yi, who are courageous enough to publicly protest against government bans, deserve the support of the international community,» emphasized Guido Baumhauer, Editor in Chief of DW-WORLD.DE, the Deutsche Welle’s online presence.
«This action really shows that the Chinese government has no respect for freedom of expression,» underlined Julien Pain, a member of the BOBs jury and head of the Reports Without Borders Internet Freedom Desk. «The Chinese government started censoring the Internet a long time ago, it is not the first time that a blog has been shut down, but it shows again that each time a new form of circulating information is created, the Chinese authorities manage to control it and shut it down — and that’s scary.»
The Chinese jury member Zhao Jing, who is better known as Michael Anti, said he finds the Chinese authorities’ decision to be a grave mistake. «Blogs play an important role in freedom of speech, and the fact that the Chinese government is censoring them proves how far China is from accepting free speech,» he said.
«Manal and Alaa’s Bit Bucket» won the Special Award from Reporters Without Borders in the Deutsche Welle’s 2005 Weblog Awards. The siblings Manal and Alaa have become an institution among bloggers and journalists critical of the Egyptian regime. They strive to promote freedom of expression and protect human rights as well as highlight the need for political reforms in Egypt. Their Weblog also offers other bloggers free storage space and practical help starting their own initiatives. Manal and Alaa’s work has been crucial is developing a critical and engaged blogger scene in Egypt.
The winners in the other 12 categories will be announced — as planned — on Nov. 21, 2005. In total there are 13 awards honoring blogs in nine languages.
The 12 Best of the Blogs jury members are: Hossein ‘Hoder’ Derakhshan (Iran), Lisa Stone (USA), Ammar Abdulhamid (Syria), Loïc le Meur (France), Yegor Bykovsky (Russia), Michael Anti (China), André Lemos (Brazil), Jose Luis Orihuela and Ignacio Escolar (Spain), Konstantin Klein and Jörg Kantel (Germany) and Julien Pain (France, Reporters Without Borders).
Media and cooperation partners are: Reporters Without Borders, CBC.com (Canada), Handelsblatt.com (Germany), LeMonde.fr (France), Clarín.com (Argentina), Folha Online (Brazil), Shargh Newspaper (Iran), Lenta.ru (Russia), Iran-Emrooz.net (Iran), and Phoenix TV (China). The 2005 Deutsche Welle International Weblog Awards are supported by the Maritim Hotel Bonn.
14 November 2005