Journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead by unknown assailants on September 5, has been posthumously accorded with the prestigious Anna Politkovskaya Award, instituted by Reach All Women (RAW) in War.
RAW, in a statement, said that it was honoured to award the annual Anna Politkovskaya Award for women human rights defenders from war and conflict zones jointly to Gauri Lankesh posthumously, and to a brave Pakistani activist Gulalai Ismaial, who similarly is fighting against Islamic extremism. Ms. Ismail has faced the death threats for speaking out against the Taliban in north-west Pakistan.
Gauri is the 12th woman to receive this prestigious award. Nominations Committee members have observed that they were deeply moved by Gauri and Gulalai's bravery and dedication to peace and human rights. The citation reads: Gauri Lankesh was a major figure in India, critic of right-wing Hindu extremism, campaigner for women's rights, fiercely opposed to the caste system, campaigning for rights of Dalits and so on.
With mixed feelings, Kavitha Lankesh, Gauri’s sister, told media persons here on Thursday that the Anna Politkovskaya Award was a morale booster for people who want to write and continue to fight against injustice. It was an honour not only for the members of Gauri's family, but also to "huge family" that loved Gauri for her commitment to the cause of secular ideals, justice, equality and women rights. "In fact, the award honours what Gauri stood for throughout her life... that ‘you cannot silence me’,” said a teary-eyed Ms. Kavitha.
The announcement of the award was an emotional one, as Gauri's brother Indrajit Lankesh, mother Indira Lankesh and close friend M.S. Ashadevi struggled to find words to express their feelings on RAW honouring Gauri with this international award.
Gauri was awarded with Periyar Award posthumously by the Thinkers Forum on September 17 in Bengaluru.
Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist was killed in 2006 in Moscow for her courage to speak out on behalf of the suffering of the civilians in the war in Chechnya. "It is not by coincidence that Gauri's work, her personality and the way she was killed for her work reminded us so much of the way Anna lived and died for the truth,” said members of nominations committee.
To mark the anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya's murder on October 7, 2006 and to honour Anna and the women like in the world, RAW in War annually presents the award to a female human rights defender from conflict zone.