To the content

Winners of The Bobs 2015 speak up and speak out

Winners photo - The Bobs 2015

International activists from Bangladesh, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Syria grabbed the spotlight at The Bobs 2015 award ceremony and turned it to reflect on people who are too seldom heard from.

The award ceremony for the 11th edition of the annual The Bobs – Best in Online Activism – started on Tuesday with a moving speech from Rafida Ahmed, one of the bloggers who runs Mukto Mona – which won The Bobs’ Jury Award in the Best Social Activism category.

Best of Social Activism: Mukto Mona

After watching as her husband, Avijit Roy, was murdered on the streets of Dhaka in February in a brutal attack that also put her in intensive care, Ahmed and others at Mukto Mona continue to write post promoting a secular Bangladesh and the free, safe exchange of ideas.

The Bobs’ jury member Shahidul Alam praised the work done by bloggers at Mukto Mona.

“It is incredible that despite the risk, the people of Mukto Mona risk their lives to do this work,” he told the audience that gathered in Bonn, Germany, as part of the annual DW Global Media Forum.

But Ahmed added that it wasn’t herself that she saw in the most danger – despite being on hit list of bloggers drawn up by Islamist extremists in Bangladesh.

“I am here,” she said. “I am not too worried about myself. I am worried about the other bloggers in Bangladesh. They are the ones in trouble.”

Best of Arts & Media: Zaytoun, the little refugee

In the Arts & Media category, The Bobs award went to Zaytoun, the little refugee. Mohamed Tayeb of the @ZaytounGang received the award for the video game that puts players in the shoes of a Palestinian boy living in a refugee camp in Damascus.

Speaking to the crowd from behind a scarf, Tayeb said he covered his face because the face of refugees in Syria and other parts of the world is not recognized by the international community.

“It’s time to cancel passports and nationalities and be humans,” he said. “We’re all humans.”

The Bobs Awards Ceremony

The Bobs jury member Leila Nachawati praised the project for bringing the daily lives of refugees into the spotlight.

“The Zaytoun project expresses the voice of refugees,” she said. “And we need to listen.”

Best of Privacy & Security: Rancho Electrónico

Rubén Omar Valencia Pérez received The Bobs award for Rancho Electrónico, a Mexican collective that promotes Internet security and works to show people how to protect themselves and their data while online.

The project’s work on the ground in Mexico, a country where people can disappear without a trace was helping “more and more communities learn to defend themselves and organize themselves,” he said.

“Rancho Electrónico is something exceptional, and we need more exceptional people,” said The Bobs jury member Renata Avila.

DW Freedom of Speech Award: Raif Badawi

For the first time in the 11-year history of The Bobs, Deutsche Welle also gave out a special prize, the DW Freedom of Speech Award. This special award went to Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who is currently imprisoned as was sentenced to 10 years in jail, a huge fine and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam.

Jochen Wegner, the editor-in-chief of, pointed out the award for Badawi was a bittersweet moment, as it was clear Saudi officials would not release him despite international calls for him to be set free.

“Despite knowing his views clashed with Saudi mainstream, Raif Badawi continued to speak his mind,” Wegner said, adding that every post Badawi made at the site he founded, Free Saudi Liberals, put him in greater danger than most journalists in Germany would face in their entire lives. “He is also a champion of secularism and of the separation of church and state.”

Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar sent a video message from Canada, where she has fled for safety reasons.

“Do not forget Raif’s case – his fate and the fate of his children is in your hands,” she said.

A rousing standing ovation from everyone in attendance and a vow from Deutsche Welle Director General Peter Limbourg that DW would continue to report on Badawi’s case showed many would remember.

More pictures from the award ceremony.

Have a look at all the winners of The Bobs 2015 – in all 14 languages.

You can also check out all the nominees – there’s a lot of inspirational work to see!

The Bobs Awards Ceremony


Back in the day, one of the obstacles that stood in the way of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was the high level of offline and online distribution of counterfeit products in the country. At the time, a certain amount surrounded the closure of the most famous platform for illegal music – For Russians, it was all rather amusing considering that they could not imagine how it was possible to pay for pirated music. Whereas western users could not imagine that paid-for music, even if it was cheaper than on iTunes, might be pirated. It was this orientation towards the foreign market that led to AllOfMp3’s being buried eight years ago.

As later experience has demonstrated, piracy – particularly on a gigantic scale – can be undertaken in Russia with impunity. Well, almost. From time to time, there are showy campaigns with curious results, such as the funny renaming of songs and artists. On the whole, however, with the exception of a few rarities, one can still find any music or film for free on the Russian internet within a couple of minutes.

Read more

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.

Read more

“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.

Read more