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Freedom of expression takes center stage at The Bobs

bobsceremony2016Recipients of The Bobs awards were honored on Tuesday evening at the Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany.

At the televised event, hosted by Deutsche Welle’s Jaafar Abdul Karim, four projects out of over 2,300 submissions were honored with the international accolade.

The winners of the 2016 The Bobs jury awards are:

 ‘To change the world, you must change yourself’

The Indian project Stop Acid Attacks was chosen as the winner in the category of Social Change. The initiative supports women disfigured by acid attacks and who face, as a result, stigmatization and isolation.

The jury selected SAA for taking on a “very difficult battle in an environment of patriarchy where women are not given a status equal to that of men, and for managing to give back the rights that were stripped away from them in such a painful way.”

The recipient, Alok Dixit, called the award a sign that he and his team’s efforts to raise awareness were now turning into a gradual acceptance of these women.

He himself married an acid attack survivor, falling in love with her strength.

“Everyone says change, change the world, but I think you have to change yourself first.”

Iranian app circumvents moral police

In the category of Tech for Good, the jury selected the Iranian app Gershad. The smartphone application relies on crowdsourcing to pinpoint police and plot their location on a map so that people can avoid them and go about their daily lives.

A representative of the app’s designers said their goal was to use collective non-violence as an instrument to restore the basic right of expression to Iranians.

“Our optimistic hope is that one day our app will no longer be necessary and that maybe they can use it as a traffic reporting app,” the winners said in a statement.

Installation art puts refugee in the spotlight

The German art project The Center for Political Beauty won in the Arts and Culture category for courageously testing new forms of protection that involve social media and art.

For their latest project they have placed 1,000 platforms on the trail that refugees and migrants are following into Europe. Each contains an aid kit and a solar panel to send a rescue signal.

Award brings responsibility

The Bengali documentary “Razor’s Edge” won the category of Citizen Journalism. Bloggers in the South Asian country have been murdered for their activism. The documentary highlighted the culture of impunity which protects the murderers and further endangers freedom of the press in Bangladesh, which ranks 144 on the World Press Freedom Index.

The documentary maker, who no longer lives in Bangladesh, told DW that the awards ceremony was an emotional event.

“I feel more responsibility to shed light on this situation having received the award,” he said.

The violence against Bangladeshi bloggers has forced this year’s recipient of the Bobs for Citizen Journalism to keep his identity secret

“I want to promote the movie in other countries. I have already chosen the Netherlands and plan to travel Europe and I want to meet as many people as I can, so that they can understand what’s going on in Bangladesh.”

The South Asian country saw the murder of four bloggers at the hands of religious extremists within a five-week period this spring. The government’s unwillingness to confront the murders has created a situation too dangerous for the “Razor’s Edge” creator to return.

But, he said he expected to return someday. “One cannot live in this situation for good.”

Bassem Yousseff makes surprise appearance

Another activist to visit the show was Egypt star Bassem Yousseff, who himself knows the high price when a government strips its citizens of their right to free speech. In 2014, he cancelled his popular satirical news program with the rise of Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to the Egyptian presidency.

Yousseff, however, called on the audience – comprised largely of Westerners – to take an interest not only in the violations of human rights across the globe, but to question what Europe’s role has been in supporting dictatorships.

“These Western governments are basically fine with these other governments because of oil or arms deals. That’s not the Europe that we are used to,” he told the audience to loud applause. “I hope you don’t turn a blind eye to the reason why many of these dictatorships continue to exist and thrive.”

When asked, on a less serious note, how Egypt was nowadays, he said: “Egypt is amazing. We’re living the best days of our lives. You can’t complain.” And then, adding with a winning smile: “I mean – really – you can’t complain.”

By Kathleen Schuster

This article originally appeared at

Stop Acid Attacks, ‘Razor’s Edge,’ Gershad, Center for Political Beauty win The Bobs 2016

Jury 2016Projects documenting the life-threatening situation faced by secular Bangladeshis, Indian victims of acid attacks, refugees fleeing to Europe and Iranians aiming to go about their daily lives won top honors at the 12th annual The Bobs – Best of Online Activism.

Our congratulations go out the Jury Award winners in this year’s four main, multilingual categories:

  • Social Change: “Stop Acid Attacks” campaign from India
  • Citizen Journalism: Documentary film “Razor’s Edge” from Bangladesh
  • Tech for Good: “Gershad” app from Iran
  • Arts & Culture: “Center for Political Beauty” from Germany

See all the winners here!

Many thanks to all of you for submitting more than 2,300 online activism projects to the competition and for the more than 100,000 votes you cast to determine the User Award winners.

Thanks also go to our jury (follow them on Twitter!) for narrowing the submissions down to a manageable list of just 14 projects in each category and then throwing themselves into the daunting task of evaluating projects in over a dozen languages and decide on the Jury Award winners.

Social change

The Indian project “Stop Acid Attacks” won the jury’s award in the Social Change category. SAA focuses on supporting the women who survive acid attacks and too often find themselves alone and stigmatized because of the taboo surrounding the violence committed against them.

SAA helped establish the Sheroes Hangout, a café run by acid attack survivors, advocates for survivors’ rights, for a law explicitly prohibiting acid attacks and for health care to be provided to survivors.

Citizen Journalism

The Bengali documentary film “Razor’s Edge” won the jury’s award in the Citizen Journalism category. The film examines the life-threatening situation secular bloggers and writers face in Bangladesh and the government’s unwillingness to confront the spree of murders committed by religious extremists that has left four dead in the past five weeks.

Tech for Good

Strict regulations dictate what Iranians, particularly women, are permitted to wear in public and religious police take to the streets to enforce the rules. The smart phone app “Gershad” relies on crowd-sourcing to pinpoint the police’s location and plot it on a map so people can avoid them and go about their daily lives.

Arts and Culture

The German project “Center for Political Beauty” won The Bobs jury award in the Arts and Culture category. The political performance art collective organizes provocative events, including demonstrations to support refugees and protest the export of German weapons.

The four jury award winners will all be invited to an award ceremony at DW’s Global Media Forum in June.

Thank you very much – we’re all looking forward to #thebobs17!


Sedat Ergin wins DW Freedom of Speech Award

Ergin2Our congratulations go to Sedat Ergin, the winner of the second annual DW Freedom of Speech Award on Thursday. The editor-in-chief of the daily “Hurriyet,” Ergin has been on trial since March for allegedly insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ergin said he was “honored to receive the prize that stands for the preservation of press freedom worldwide.”

DW Director-General Limbourg called Ergin a “worthy prize recipient” and stressed the importance of standing up for freedom of expression.

“We cannot just look the other way and remain silent when journalists, artists and scientists are being systematically intimidated and harassed by authorities,” Limbourg said.

Find out more about Sedat Ergin at

Having problems? We’re on it.

We’re honored that people really want to win The Bobs and are willing to go to great lengths to be among the best in online activism. Unfortunately, as has happened in the past, a few people are also turning to illicit tricks to influence the voting process.

In an effort to avoid manipulation, suspicious votes will show up in the vote total at but will not immediately be tallied for individual candidates. We will evaluate the votes and ensure they were cast in accordance with our rules before adding them to nominees’ totals.

We have also received a few messages from people who have had connection errors while trying to cast votes. We’re looking into this issue and working on a solution. If you are also experiencing problems when you vote, please try again after a few minutes and be sure you have the most recent version of your web browser. You can also send a message to letting us know when and where the problem occurred and what browser and operating system you use.

Thank you for your understanding!

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