There is no doubt that journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh's brutal murder on 5 September shone a spotlight on the dangers faced by writers who critique majoritarian politics and express dissent.
A month after her violent death at the hands of unknown assailants, Lankesh has been posthumously honoured with the Anna Politkovskaya Award, instituted by the Reach All Women in War (RAW in WAR) organisation. She is the first Indian journalist to win the prestigious award, reported Hindustan Times.
Lankesh, 55, shares the award posthumously with Gulalai Ismail, 31, a human rights and peace activist who lives in Pakistan, and who, like Lankesh, is a fierce critic of Islamic extremism. Ismail has received many death threats for speaking out against the Taliban.
RAW in WAR is a London-based, NGO that supports human rights and victims of war. It established the Anna Politkovskaya Award in 2007 to honour the memory of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in Moscow in 2006 because of her courageous reporting of the second war in Chechnya.
According to a report in The Wire, while announcing Gauri's win, the award committee, in a statement, said, "RAW in WAR honours Gauri Lankesh and her fearless journalism as a strong critic of right-wing Hindu extremism, campaigner for women's rights, fiercely opposed to the caste system, and campaigner for the rights of Dalits. A senior Indian journalist and activist, Gauri just like Anna Politkovskaya before her, was shot dead outside her home in Bangalore on 5th September 2017 in order to silence her voice and her critical reporting and activism."
Addressing a press conference about the award, Lankesh's sister, Kavitha, said that the award does not belong to the family but to "everyone who stood by Gauri".
"This award is a morale booster for people who want to write, and fight... It honours what Gauri stood for — that you cannot silence me," Thomson Reuters Foundation quoted Kavitha as saying.
Talking about her co-winner, Ismail told Thomson Reuters Foundation that Lankesh's murder had left her numb with grief. "It was heartbreaking that an advocate of democracy, a courageous voice was silenced. This award recognises our common struggle and courage," she said.
RAW in WAR also honoured a Rohingya refugee, 25-year-old Jamalida Begum, who spoke out publicly about the horror of being raped by Myanmar security forces after her husband was shot dead in the village of Pyaung Pyaik in north-western Myanmar.
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