At the GMF 2016 Julia Bernstorf, DW Deputy Director of Innovative Programming, said: "Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are essential for democracy. Civil society needs human rights to be strong and powerful."
Bernstorf: " But in so many countries around the world, these values are at stake. People worldwide have to fight for them.
Many of them are threatened by militia, extremists or even by their own local authorities. For these reasons, it is extremely important that people are not intimidated by these threats but get involved and actively take part in civil society. Modern technology enables people to publish and express their opinions in a variety of ways. This has changed the media landscape and helped enhance political participation.
But technology is a double-edged sword, as it makes censorship much easier as well. In countries like China or Iran, where information is censored, DW's Chinese and Farsi services are being blocked, making it difficult and even dangerous for citizens to receive information and to express their thoughts about their governments and the political situation in their countries.
The situation is becoming increasingly difficult in many countries, including here in Europe. Poland and Hungary restrict media distribution. In Germany, journalists are being threatened by right-wing extremists. The political development in Turkey is especially alarming. That is the reason why DW honored Sedat Ergin, editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Hürriyet, with its Freedom of Speech Award 2016.
DW supports activists and their projects worldwide with The Bobs Awards. Since 2004, The Bobs have honored bloggers, writers and journalists who champion the open exchange of ideas, freedom of expression and human rights through the internet. The Bobs are the only global, international awards honoring creative and brave online projects that cross language and cultural barriers and thereby showcase the best of what the ever-expanding web has to offer. The awards support bloggers, citizen journalists and other stakeholders from civil society. With The Bobs, DW wants to give everyone the opportunity to present their projects to an international audience.
Many people have seized this opportunity, with more than 2,300 proposals submitted in 2016. Almost 105,000 votes were cast for the language awards. An international jury of renowned online experts from 14 countries selected the 126 finalists and finally the four main prize winners.
DW will continue to stand up for freedom of the press and freedom of speech with our journalistic services, The Bobs Awards and the Freedom of Speech Award."