Iranian blogger builds award-worthy network against censorship


By German newspaper, Derwesten:


Bonn.   Iranian journalist Arash Sigarchi received the “BOB” Media Award of the Deutsche Welle for the best blog. Sigarchi spread from exile in the United States, unfiltered news about his home country. The 33-year-old has built a vast network of information.

Inform people about freely without censorship, a country that is not free and has a government that puts unwanted Rapporteur to jail – that’s the goal of Sigarchi Arash, an Iranian journalist and Internet bloggers. With the help of his blog “Window of Anguish” (“window of anxiety”), he says – now in exile in the U.S. – about politics and human rights in Iran . For the 33-year-old with the main prize of the International Blog Award was awarded the Deutsche Welle.

His web career began in 2002 in Iran Arash Sigarchi. At that time he was chief editor of a local newspaper and the censor his daily companion – “as well as other newspapers was customary,” says Sigarchi. Looking for a way to publish the censored news yet, the Iranians finally came on at the time relatively unknown blogger scene. The own blog was the solution for him: Sigarchi began, all the information in the newspaper were not allowed to write in his blog. For the interested foreign media even soon.

But his freedom of expression did not tolerate the government. 2004 Sigarchi was sentenced to 14 years in prison because he had criticized the government. After an inspection, the prison sentence was reduced to three years. Finally allowed to leave prison Sigarchi after 24 months – for the treatment of tongue cancer. As he should be arrested again after his recovery, the journalist left the country in 2008. Since then he has lived in American exile in Washington.

From there, he keeps up his blog. Information, he now gets over the internet.The social media like Twitter and Facebook to help him “. During my time in Iran, I’ve built up a large network, so I’m still with more than 10 000 Iranian bloggers and more than 600 Iranian journalists in connection” Some were his informants chief editors of national media and experienced than he. “I can trust them and they told me,” said Sigarchi.

Arash Sigarchi researched a lot about Internet

His work with the U.S. television station “Voice of America” ​​and some personal contacts in Iran, it also help to understand what happened in his home country “. Figuring out whether information is accurate or not, that’s part of my job”

And the Internet offers many opportunities for him: With a message that could send him a friend via Twitter, for example, he asked his Facebook community. The friend wrote of a loud noise in Tehran, a similar explosion.Sigarchi put the information on his Facebook page and asked its more than 5000 contacts for help. It turned out that was committed in the capital, a bomb attack. Facebook reached over Sigarchi pictures of the assassination and a short cell phone video. At the end he was able to produce the material with a TV report.

Sigarchis unrelenting commitment to freedom of opinion and objective reporting on Iran from exile and take out his blog the best blog of 2012. This was decided by a majority of the jury of the “German Wave Blog Awards”.Since 2004, the international broadcasting of the Federal Republic of the prize, which also “The BOBs” (Best of the blogs) is known. According to the website for the award, the award of international websites that promote the open exchange of views on the Internet. In addition, the German will wave with the awards to the increasing importance of communication over the Internet to draw attention.

Blogger unmasked false doctor

The Arash Sigarchi has been detected. He cites the example of the Iranian Interior Minister Ali to dismiss Kordan 2008th Bloggers have found that the Minister, contrary to their own information, a doctorate from the University of Oxford has. After Kordan himself was no longer viable in Iran. The show so Sigarchi that social media could change step by step the development of Iran.

Anna Hückelheim



BOBs 2012 – ‘They can’t stop me’


By the Bobs:

This year’s Deutsche Welle Blog Awards – “the BOBs” – were presented on Tuesday at the Global Media Forum 2012. The first prize went to an Iranian blogger repeatedly arrested for his critical articles.

“They give minorities a voice and claim their right to free speech,” said Deutsche Welle Editor-in-Chief Ute Schaeffer, addressing the six Blog Award winners at the ceremony on Tuesday. “That is a huge challenge. Deutsche Welle wants to give you courage and show you how important your work is. You’re doing a great job!”

The winners of DW’s eighth BOB awards were chosen from more than 3,000 proposals by an international jury. All the prize winners were in Bonn on Tuesday to accept their prizes as part of the Global Media Forum.

Abuse map

The category “Best Use of Technology for a Social Good” was won by the operators of “Harassmap,” an Egyptian web portal where women can anonymously report sexual abuse incidents, which are then pinpointed on a map. The map draws attention to an important, but often overlooked issue in Egypt, where there is very little awareness of how many women are affected by abuse.

Boukary Konaté accepts the "Special Topic Award Education and Culture" BOBBoukary Konaté won the “Special Topic Award Education and Culture”


More than 500 people are involved in this fight against the increasing violence against women in the North African country. “A lot of men are involved too, just because they are shocked by what is being done to Egyptian women,” said Rebecca Chiao, one of the earliest participants in the “Harassmap” project.

The prize for the “Best Social Activism Campaign” was won by Syrian Facebook page “Freerazan,” which is dedicated Syrian bloggers currently in prison and named after Razan Ghazzawi, who has been imprisoned several times. The prize was accepted by Sherry Al-Hayek, on behalf of everyone involved in the site. “This award is not for the page,” she said, “but for the people on the ground, the real fighters.”

Millions watch Chinese cartoons

Chinese video channel “Kuang Kuang Kuang” also impressed the BOBs jury, and took home the “Best Video Channel” award. The site is the work of artist Wang Bo, whose cartoons illustrating social injustices in China, covering subjects from contaminated baby milk, forced re-settling and the disappearance of artist Ai Weiwei.

Wang Bo is constantly treading on thin ice with Chinese censors, and his work is not without risk. Despite this, he described himself as a normal Chinese man who is just lucky enough to be able to draw cartoons and use the Internet.

Rebecca Chiao wins the BOB for "Best use of technology for social good"Rebecca Chiao accepted a prize on behalf of Egypt’s Harrassmap


The prize for the “Special Topic Award: Education and Culture” went to Boukary Konaté of Mali, who helps his compatriots use the full potential of the Internet. He has been blogging on “Fasokan,” both in French and the West African language of Bambara since 2008.

His site is an educational tool, documenting how he gains access to the Internet with the help of portable solar panels and a car battery, and he travels around the country teaching people in rural areas how they can make best use of the Internet. Konaté said proudly that “people are always pleased to see me” when he arrives on his bike with his solar power module.

Special prize from Reporters Without Borders

The special award handed out by NGO “Reporters Without Borders” went to Bengali blogger Abu Sufian, who highlights social injustices in his own country, focussing particularly on the government’s authoritarian measures. The jury said Sufian risks his life reporting on extra-judicial executions in Bangladesh. Accepting the award, Sufian said he realized that his work was dangerous – “but there have to be people who take up that challenge. I am one of them.”

BOB 2012 winnersSix bloggers won prizes at the BOBs


But the jury awarded the 2012 Best Blog prize to Iranian Arash Sigarchi, whose “Window of Anguish” is widely read in the Persian community worldwide. Sigarchi has been arrested several times for his blog posts, and was recently sentenced to 14 years in jail, though that was later commuted to three years. But neither his jail term, nor his cancer, has broken his will to write.

“For us, Arash is a man who bridges the gap between citizens and journalists,” said jury member Arash Kamangir presenting the award. He said that Sigarchi demonstrated a political blogger’s essential trait – he was able to simultaneously analyze his country’s issues critically, objectively and soberly.

Sigarchi now blogs from the US, though he constantly keeps up with the situation in Iran, and he says he has no fear of the “Halal Internet,” the clean Internet the Iranian government uses to cut off its people from the World Wide Web. “They can’t stop the movement,” he says. “Not even in jail. They can’t stop me.”

Author: Silke Wünsch / bk
Editor: Richard Connor


The BOBs: Window of Anguish and Bridges of Hope


By The Bobs:

Deutsche Welle presented prizes to the winners of its international Blog Awards, The BOBs, on June 26 during the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum. The top award went to Iranian journalist and blogger Arash Sigarchi.

“When it comes to freedom, I believe the situation has worsened since I left Iran in 2008,” said Sigarchi. In “Window of Anguish” (, he reports in Persian and English about social and political topics in his homeland, especially about the state of human rights.

“I gave the blog this name because every day, when I opened a new window in my browser, I came upon alarming news stories,” said Sigarchi. He lives in exile in Washington, D.C., U.S.A. The journalist was sentenced in Iran in 2004 to 14 years in prison for his writing. With the help of Nobel Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi, he saw his sentence reduced to three years.

“This award-winning blog is very important in the Persian blogosphere, which is closely watched and censored by the authorities,” the jury said of its decision. “Arash Sigarchi is a blogger who left Iran but continues to report tirelessly on what’s happening in his homeland.”

An international jury awarded prizes in six categories altogether.

In the Special Topic Culture and Education category, the jury honored the blog “Fasokan.” 36-year-old Boukary Konaté has been writing at since 2008 and documents his efforts in French and the local language Bambara to close the digital divide in rural regions of Mali. The jury said his blog represents “a bridge between the rural culture in villages and the Internet.” Konaté, who was born in a village in Mali and later became a teacher, shows people how they can connect to the Internetusing a portable solar power cell and car battery, and what they can use it for.

The award winner said that connecting people with one another is important to him. “In this way, the rural areas can not only share their traditions and cultures with the rest of the world but also profit from the experiences of others in order to develop in a lasting way.”

The Best Social Activism Campaign distinction went to Syrian blogger and activist Sherry Al-Hayek for the Facebook page “Free Syrian Blogger & Activist Razan Ghazzawi” ( This site is dedicated to all imprisoned Syrian activists. “By giving the award to this campaign, we are calling attention to the numerous initiatives in the Arab world that support bloggers and activists,” said the jury.

Rebecca Chiao from Egypt won the prize in the Best Use of Technology for Social Good category for her “Harassmap” ( The website provides an anonymous way for women and girls to report sexual harassment, then categorizes and localizes the incidents on a map. “To the project’s credit, it addresses a taboo topic that affects many, many women in Egypt, and raises the public’s awareness of the issue,” the jury said, explaining its decision.

The Best Video Channel award went to “Kuang Kuang Kuang” ( by Wang Bo (under the pseudonym Pi San). His team uses comics and animations to criticize the government’s policies and comment on social problems. The group is able to use satire and great creativity to get around the Chinese censors, said the jury.

The Reporter without Borders Prize was awarded to the Bengali journalist Abu Sufian. He uses the blog to draw attention to social and political grievances, including authorities’ arbitrary measures. The jury said Sufian risks his life by “reporting on controversial topics that traditional media fail to cover.”

The BOBs represent Deutsche Welle’s efforts to promote open discourse and mutual understanding on the Internet. Since 2004, the BOBs have been awarded to people who promote freedom of opinion and human rights on the Internet in a special way.

Premium partners of the contest are Reporters Without Borders and the re:publica conference. Media partners are: Global Voices Online,, Arabic Media Network, Somewhere in…,, iSun TV, Categorynet, TV5 Monde, Gooya, sailingsilang,com, Berita Satu, La Información, La Nación, Terra and


Best Blog’s award for Arash Sigarchi


By the Bobs

The winners of this year’s Jury Awards met at a prize ceremony in Bonn, Germany, on Tuesday. The event was part of the Deutsche Welle Global Media forum.

We’re not going to rehash the entire ceremony here – you can read about winners here and here.  But we would like to take the opportunity to thank the winners for their inspiring and moving words. Your creative work continues to influence people around the world.

Here’s a review of the winners:

Best Blog: Window of Anguish (Arash Sigarchi, @sigarchi)

Best Social Activism Campaign: Free Razan (Sherry Al-Hayek, @sherriecoals)

Best Use Of Technology For Social Good: Harassmap (Rebecca Chiao, @Ribeska)

Special Topic Award Education and Culture: Fasokan (Boukary Konaté, @fasokan)

Best Video Channel: Kuang Kuang Kuang (Wang Bo)

Reporters Without Borders Awards: Abu Sufian’s Blog (Abu Sufian)

Photos of the Award Ceremony and the Jury Winners

English Press Release