Bangladeshi journalist Abu Sufian’s blog about extrajudicial executions and other kinds of injustice is the jury choice in the “Reporters Without Borders” category of this year’s BOBs (Best of Blogs competition), organized by the German radio station Deutsche Welle. It was was chosen from 11 finalists by an international jury consisting of bloggers and a Reporters Without Borders representative.
A reporter for the bdnews24.com website, Sufian exposes himself to threats and considerable danger to provide detailed investigative coverage of extrajudicial executions, a problem that the government denies and the traditional media largely ignore, although the victims number in the thousands. He won an award from a national journalists’ organization in 2006.
His reporting has included coverage of last February’s murder of husband-and-wife journalists Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi, which has prompted unprecedented protests and joint demands for justice by Bangladeshi journalists and bloggers. He is also campaigning for a “right to information” law that would force the government to be more transparent.
Life is not easy for journalists in Bangladesh, which is ranked 129th out of 179 countries in the press freedom index that Reporters Without Borders published in January. The editors of two newspapers were recently threatened with death and reprisals, privately-owned TV stations are harassed and the authorities did not hesitate to threaten journalists in March.
An additional award was made in the “Reporters Without Borders” category on the basis of votes cast by the public on the BOBs website from 13 March to 2 May. The public’s choice was Invisible Tibet, a blog about the situation in Tibet that Beijing-based writer and poet Tsering Woeser keeps despite the permanent news blackout that the Chinese authorities try to impose on Tibet.
An outspoken critic of the government’s policies in Tibet, Woeser has been covering the many cases of self-immolation by Tibetan monks and a wave of arrests of Tibetan intellectualls in western China. She was recently prevented from leaving China to receive an international award and was placed under house arrest in March.
Last year’s jury choice in the “Reporters Without Borders” category was Ciudad Juárez, en la sombra del narcotráfico, a courageous blog by Spanish journalist Judith Torrea about drug cartel activities, government repression and police corruption in northern Mexico.
The public’s choice last year was the blog that is kept by the staff of the Moscow-based independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Providing outspoken coverage of such stories as the Caucasus and police abuses, the newspaper and its blog have become an institution in Russia and abroad but its journalists have paid a high price.
This year’s prizes will be presented at Deutsche Welle’s Global Media Forum in Bonn on 26 June.