China has once again reaped criticism for its restrictive approach to freedom of expression. The regime blocked an Internet site nominated for Deutsche Welle's Weblog awards.
The 12-member jury of Deutsche Welle's 2005 Weblog Awards (BOBs) on Monday condemned the blocking of "Wang Yi's Microphone" and called on the Chinese authorities to stop censoring Weblogs and the Internet.
The BOBs jury members' protest comes just days before the World Summit on the Information Society begins on Nov. 16 in Tunis. Failure to declare their protest in light of the summit would be tantamount to tolerating censorship, they said. A Chinese delegation is expected to take part in the event.
"Bloggers like Wang Yi, who are courageous enough to publicly protest against government bans, deserve the support of the international community," said Guido Baumhauer, editor-in-chief of DW-WORLD.DE, Deutsche Welle's online presence.
"This action really shows that the Chinese government has no respect for freedom of expression," said Julien Pain, a member of the BOBs jury and head of the Reports Without Borders Internet Freedom Desk. "The Chinese government started censoring the Internet a long time ago, it is not the first time that a blog has been shut down, but it shows again that each time a new form of circulating information is created, the Chinese authorities manage to control it and shut it down -- and that's scary."
Chinese jury member Zhao Jing, better known as Michael Anti, said he the Chinese authorities' decision was a grave mistake. "Blogs play an important role in freedom of speech, and the fact that the Chinese government is censoring them proves how far China is from accepting free speech," he said.
Promoting human irghts
The winners in the other 12 categories will be announced on Nov. 21. The 13 awards honor blogs in nine languages.
The jury is made up of Ammar Abdulhamid (Syria), Michael Anti (China), Yegor Bykovsky (Russia), Hossein 'Hoder' Derakhshan (Iran), Ignacio Escolar (Spain), Jörg Kantel (Germany), Konstantin Klein (Germany), Loïc le Meur (France), André Lemos (Brazil), Jose Luis Orihuela (Spain), Julien Pain (France, Reporters Without Borders) and Lisa Stone (USA).
The following media and cooperation partners have been involved in the BOBs: Reporters Without Borders, CBC.ca (Canada), Handelsblatt.com (Germany), LeMonde.fr (France), Clarín.com (Argentina), Folha Online (Brazil), Shargh Newspaper (Iran), Lenta.ru (Russia), Iran-Emrooz.net (Iran), and Phoenix TV (China). The 2005 Deutsche Welle International Weblog Awards are supported by the Maritim Hotel Bonn.