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Chinese Bloggers Defy Censorship

The jury for the Deutsche Welle International Weblog Awards -- The BOBs -- announced the winners in all 16 of the competition's categories on Thursday in Berlin. There were three Chinese among them.

Zeng Jinyan, the wife of human rights activist Hu Jia´(shown here on the poster) won an award at the BOBs

Zeng Jinyan, the wife of human rights activist Hu Jia´(shown here on the poster) won an award at the BOBs

The official jury was filled by selected international bloggers and experts who are respected in their respective blogospheres. But not all invited jurors were able to come to Berlin to attend the event hosted in Berlin. The nominated juror Zhou Shuguang from China was prevented by local authorities from leaving the country prior to his flight to Germany. The 35 year-old citizen journalist and well known blogger Zhou uses his blog to write regularly about social injustice that the state-run media conceals. Using the pen-name of Zola he is one of the first and most famous citizen journalists in China.

Obstacles by Chinese authorities

"On November 21 I wanted to cross the border to Hong Kong at Shenzhen and showed my passport. After the officials saw my data on the computer screen, they took me to a room. I had to give them my passport, other documents and my cell-phone. Two policemen were watching me. After half an hour they said that I was not allowed to leave the country," Zhou told Deutsche Welle by telephone.

After a second failed attempt to leave the country Zhou asked security authorities at his home province for the reason. There he was told that it was for national security reasons. Deutsche Welle and the German Federal Foreign Office were also in contact with Chinese authorities. But their efforts to arrange Zhou’s departure were not successful.

Activist's wife honoured with "Reporters Without Borders" award

25-year-old Zeng Jinyan, who is under house arrest, uses "her blog to provide a moving example of living life under the constant surveillance of the Chinese authorities", the jury found. Zeng's husband, the human activist Hu Jia was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison in April this year. While fighting with Chinese authorities for the release of her husband, she still tries to live a normal life with her infant child. The award is the result of a cooperative project with "Reporters Without Borders"designed to recognize bloggers who use the platform to highlight, promote and further the advancement of the freedom of opinion throughout the world.

Best Blog Award in Chinese language goes to lawyer

Liu Xiaoyuan is a self-educated lawyer. He has been writing his blog for three years and helps people with their legal problems, telling them how to fight against unfairness in the system. Liu Xiaoyuan appeals for transparency in the legal process and, along with other experts in China, is dedicated to building a just legal system. Questioned about the case, Liu was indignant about the Chinese authority’s approach and offered Zhou legal assistance. He says he has to confront Chinese authorities often enough:

"I temporarily had more than 20 blogs at the same time because Chinese authorities censored or blocked my reports. I spend a lot of time in front of my computer to keep my blogs up to date."

Another award which went to China was the "People's Choice Award" in the category of "Best Weblog". The group blog named "Science Guru" is dedicated to bring the latest scientific news to a large audience by using a plain language.

Promotion of freedom of expression, information and press

The aim of the annual BOBs awards is to encourage a global online dialogue – regardless of language. Another goal of the BOBs is to support the spread of the freedom of expression, information and the press worldwide, especially in countries where such freedoms are limited.

  • Date 28.11.2008
  • Author Chi-Viet Giang 28/11/08
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/LsKM
  • Date 28.11.2008
  • Author Chi-Viet Giang 28/11/08
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/LsKM