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There’s less than a week to go before Turkey’s critical general election. On June 7th, Turkish voters will go to the polls for the third time in two years (after voting in local and presidential elections). The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been in power for 13 years, but only now is the party leadership talking about the possibility of a coalition government, repeatedly warning citizens how detrimental this would be. The AKP’s potential loss of power depends on how the pro-Kurdish HDP performs in the polls. If this latter is able to cross the 10-percent threshold, it will take 40 seats from the AKP.

So far, the ruling party has been able to maintain a parliamentary majority because of the high threshold. It obtains most of the seats in Kurdish-inhabited cities because candidates from Kurdish parties have to be independent in order to bypass the threshold, which in turn decreases the total number of seats for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The Research Institute on Turkey, a grassroots initiative, has provided simulations about the possible number of seats that the HDP could get. I believe that some voters who are opposed to the AKP but are not convinced by the HDP might well decide to vote for it anyway for tactical reasons in order to weaken the ruling party’s parliamentary power.

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“The government can’t protect people in their bedrooms” the prime minister angrily retorted when questioned about the brutal murder of a young couple, both journalists, in their own home. Three years later the police have not made any progress in their investigation. No charges have been brought. After the murder of the bloggers it seems, the government is unable to protect you in the streets, at a book fair or even on the doorstep of your own home.

Intolerance appears to be the order of the day in Bangladesh, impunity the general rule and denial the default  response. Since the government and the entire state machinery have been so occupied with arresting, killing and or arranging for the disappearance of opposition activists, any citizen not directly linked to the power structures is a potential target not only for the state machinery, but also for a host of racketeers, extortionists, fundamentalists or plain opportunists.  The judiciary no longer allows anyone to challenge the government even more worryingly the police are demanding that torture be made legal.

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Bangladesh no longer ‘safe’ for bloggers

Arafatul Islam

Another blogger has been murdered in Bangladesh. Award winning blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was an active contributor to the Mukto-Mona blog site, which won a DW Bobs jury award this year.

31-year-old Ananta Bijoy Das, who was hacked to death in the Sylhet division of Bangladesh on May 12, 2015, is the latest victim of an Islamist campaign against bloggers in the country. He was one of 84 bloggers and activists named on a hit list compiled by Islamists which has been circulating on the internet since 2013. Nine people from the so-called hit list have already been slain. Although its existence has not been officially confirmed by police, the blogging community in Bangladesh is convinced the killings are taking place in accordance with the hit list.

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Hope, hope and community win at The Bobs 2015

01-Gewinner-stehen-fest-Milestoneposting_600x240pxFirst off, here’s what you really want to know. The winners of The Bobs 2015 Jury Awards are:

– Social Change: Mukto Mona

– Privacy & Security: Rancho Electronico

– Arts & Media: Zaytoun, the little refugee

Have a look at the winners of The Bobs 2015.

Many thanks to all of you – the public – for submitting over 4,800 sites to this year’s contest and for the some 30,000 votes you cast in an online ballot to decide on the winners of the People’s Choice Awards.

Thanks also go to our jury for narrowing the submissions down to a manageable list of just 14 projects in each category and then facing the daunting task of spending a day in Berlin to evaluate projects in over a dozen languages and decide on the Jury Award winners.

Social Change: Mukto Mona

In the Social Change category the jury honored the work of Rafida Bonya Ahmed, who was brutally assaulted in a February 2015 attack that claimed the life of her husband, Avijit Roy. Despite the serious injuries she suffered, Ahmed has refused to be silenced by the religious fundamentalists behind her husband’s murder. The blog reports with a journalistic and critical approach to secular and scientific issues.

Ahmed and other secular bloggers in Bangladesh often end up putting their own lives at risk while defending the country’s secular principles. Religious fundamentalists published a list of 84 people they have said should be killed – eight people on the list have been murdered.

“In a repressive environment where freedom of expression can lead to death, the defiance of these bloggers must be lauded,” Shahidul Alam, The Bobs’ Bengali-language jury.

“This is not necessarily a project about despair but about hope,” Alam added. “Despite situation and oppression, there are people who are prepared to take on repressive govern and make change. The onus now is on the rest of us, to ensure that these brave individuals are given the support and protection that they need.”

Arts & Media: Zaytoun, the little refugee

Despite the devastation and suffering caused by the Syrian civil war – especially for Syrian-Palestinian refugees in the country – the winner of the Arts & Media category, Zaytoun, the little refugee, also bears a message of hope, according to The Bobs’ Arabic-language jury member Leila Nachawati.

“We hear about Syria, but we don’t hear from Syrian-Palestinian voices,” she said. “Zaytoun gives the rest of the world a chance to hear real voices from the ground. It gives hope that life and creativity can be born.”

Created by a team of independent media makers, Zaytoun provides an up-close view of life in Syria that is often overshadowed by reporting on the war and statements from international organizations.

Privacy & Security: Rancho Electronico

Finally, the Mexican volunteer community Rancho Electronico won the Jury Award in the Privacy & Security category for its dedication to creating a real-world group of people committed to helping others understand digital technology and how to protect their privacy.

“We often fall in love with tools and apps, we get fascinated by websites – and then they vanish,” said Renata Avila of The Bobs jury. “This is not just a website or app, but a real community, on line and off, that deals with protecting privacy and security.”

The award is a form of recognition for a volunteer-based community doing work to bring together people from all social backgrounds on an issue that affects everyone, Avila added.

People’s Choice Awards

Projects in each of The Bobs’ 14 languages also won recognition from the public in the People’s Choice Awards. Have a look through the winners in each language.

DW Freedom of Speech Award

As part of The Bobs 2015, Deutsche Welle in February gave out its first Freedom of Speech Award to Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. His website, Free Saudi Liberals, addressed a number of controversial political and social issues facing Saudi Arabia. An exemplary proponent of free speech, Badawi was sentenced in May 2014 to 1,000 lashes, 10 years in prison and a large fine for insulting Islam.

What’s next? Hearing from the winners!

The three Jury Award winners as well as the winner of the Deutsche Welle Freedom of Speech Award will be invited to an award ceremony on June 23 as part of the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany.