The Global Media Forum in Bonn concluded with an appeal from the participants to the government in N'Djamena for the immediate release of three journalists who have been imprisoned in Chad for weeks.
Among the detainees is DW correspondent Eric Topona, who is also secretary general of the Union of Chadian Journalists (UJT). He was taken into custody a few weeks ago on specious accusations and has since become seriously ill. Along with him, two journalists were also arrested under similar circumstances, according to Chadian attorney Delphine Djiraïbe, who spoke to DW during the Global Media Forum.
The three-day conference was attended by more than 2,500 participants from over 100 countries, who gathered together in Bonn to share ideas on "The Future of Growth - Economic Values and the Media." DW Director General Erik Bettermann said that DW "touched a central nerve" with the issues covered during the conference. This was impressively displayed in the over 50 events that took place, he pointed out. Bettermann observed that a common sentiment throughout the conference was the importance of citizens as the key drivers of change, adding that "for that they must be well-informed."
Bettermann was proud to welcome many highly respected speakers including Vandana Shiva, Noam Chomsky and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who "shared their different standpoints and ideas for action in regard to this very central issue of globalization."
A platform for diverse opinions
The Global Media Forum has once again proved itself to be a platform for the exchange of diverse opinions. Bettermann said: "It shows how important it is to develop an internationally binding set of values - to enable a sustainable economy for the sake of the world, and for the sake of future generations." Creating such a set of binding values takes us back to the question of fundamental human rights, which expressly guarantees the right to free speech and freedom of opinion. "Right now, the Turkish government is oppressing that universal human right," said Bettermann.
Focus 2014: From information to participation
Here the role of the media will be made clear once again. "The established media, and social media alike, bear a large responsibility," commented Bettermann. He added that "social media channels have an ever more important role in shaping people's personal opinions, and in turn, in the formation of public opinion. They uniquely combine information and participation – transcending borders and spanning cultures and languages."
This will be the focus of next year's Global Media Forum, Bettermann announced. The title of the 2014 media conference from June 30 to July 1, 2014 will be: "Challenges for the Media – From Information to Participation."
Vandana Shiva warns of social disintegration
Vandana Shiva's closing speech once again strongly emphasized the focus of this year's conference. The winner of the alternative Nobel Prize warned against only looking at economically oriented signs of growth.
"The future of growth as GDP and commodification of the planet and society will inevitably accelerate ecological and social disintegration and the rise of a surveillance state," she said. "We need to focus on the growth of wellbeing of the planet and the people for the sake of peace, justice and sustainability," the Indian human rights activist said in Bonn.
Photos from the GMF (copyright: DW/M. Magunia) are available for free at: