International Editors Call for Swift Probe of Gauri Lankesh’s Death

The South Asia Media Defenders Network has urged the Indian media and civil society groups to pursue a robust campaign to ensure that there is no let-up in the investigation.

Gauri Lankesh. Credit: Facebook

New Delhi: An international group of editors, writers and media professionals from South Asia, the UK and Australia have called for a swift investigation into the murder of noted journalist and dissenter Gauri Lankesh’s murder on September 5.

A statement released by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) today said that the South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDN) has expressed its sadness and anger at the shooting and murder of Lankesh outside her home in Bengaluru. The SAMDN has also called for an end to impunity and criminality with a commitment to freedom of expression.

An informal association of editors and media practitioners, the SAMDN was recently formed to stand up for the rights of journalists under pressure.

Media professionals from the network said they stood “in solidarity with her family and her colleagues in and outside the state and demand a full, impartial investigation into her death and the circumstances which led to it and seek the killers and conspirators be brought to justice”.

The full text of the statement is below:


“At a time when freedom of expression spaces 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. 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.

We expect not just the Karnataka government but the state police and the Centre to take clear and effective steps to deal with the murder and circumstances leading to it, institute a swift, impartial and effective investigation and urge 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. These, we believe, are the bench marks of journalists, journalism and professional media.

Sanjoy Hazarika, Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), columnist and author

Siddharth Varadarajan, Founding Editor, The Wire

David Brewer, Independent Media consultant, London

Mrinal Pande, Writer and Editor, New Delhi

Tarun Basu, Director and former Chief Editor, IANS and President, Society for Policy Studies (SPS)

Nidhi Razdan, Executive Editor, NDTV

Mahfuz Anam, Editor and Publisher of The Daily Star

Mahendra Ved, President, Commonwealth Journalists Association, Columnist ,The New Straits Times, Malaysia

John Zubrzycki, writer, former Deputy Foreign Editor, The Australian newspaper, Sydney

Preeti Gill, former Commissioning Editor, Zubaan, Publishing Consultant and Literary Agent

Salil Tripathi, columnist, author, Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International, London

Vijay Naik, Convener, Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents and Consulting Editor, Sakal Media Group

Rita Payne, journalist and Media Adviser, President Emeritus, Commonwealth Journalists Association

Professor Imtiaz Ahmed, columnist and Executive Director, RCSS, Colombo

Pradip Phanjoubam, Editor, Imphal Free Press

Prasun Sonwalkar, senior journalist, London

Samrat Choudhury, independent writer, Shillong

Sandeep Phukan, Deputy Editor, The Hindu

Nupur Basu, independent journalist and Documentary Filmmaker

William Horsley, Commonwealth Journalists Association, London

David Page, Commonwealth Journalists Association, London

Subir Ghosh, independent journalist, Bengaluru

Kavita Bajeli-Datt, former chief of bureau, IANS and Communications Officer, CHRI

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