A group of editors, writers and media professionals from South Asia, the UK and Australia have joined demands seeking swift action in the murder of prominent journalist Gauri Lankesh.
The South Asia Media Defenders Network, an informal association of editors and media practitioners, which has been formed to stand up for the rights of journalists under pressure, expressed sadness and anger at the gunning down of the leading Karnataka editor and journalist Gauri Lankesh outside her home in Bengaluru on September 5.
The network includes names of Siddharth Varadarajan, Nidhi Razdan, Pradip Phanjoubam, Tarun Basu, Vijay Naik, Kavita Bajeli-Datt, Mahendra Ved, Rita Payne, John Zubrzycki, David Brewer, and William Horsley.
These journalists along with others in the association said that they stand in solidarity with Lankesh’s family and her colleagues in and outside the state and demanded a full, impartial investigation into her death and the circumstances which led to it, and seek the killers and conspirators be brought to justice.
“At a time when freedom of expression space is shrinking everywhere, this is another reminder of the fragility of life, the risk that media professionals face when they take a stand in any part of the world,” the association said in a statement on Thursday.
“It is especially tragic that such a situation should have come to pass in a city that has been hyped as India’s Silicon Valley and hence a space for safe investment and a stable and safe life,” it said.
The group has demanded that the Karnataka government, the state police and the Centre take clear and effective steps to deal with the murder and circumstances leading to it, institute a swift, impartial and effective investigation.
It urged the media and civil society organisations to robustly pursue a campaign to ensure that there is no let-up in the investigation so that the killers, their backers and conspirators are brought to book.
“Justice for Gauri Lankesh must be accompanied by opposition to impunity and criminality — combined with a renewed commitment to freedom of expression and speaking truth to power and compassion in reflecting the conditions of the poor and vulnerable,” the statement said.
“These, we believe, are the benchmarks of journalists, journalism and professional media,” it said.