Today, Thursday 5th October, RAW in WAR celebrates the courage of Gauri Lankesh, a brave Indian journalist and human rights campaigner, and Gulalai Ismail, a courageous Pakistani human rights and peace activist.
Ahead of the 11th anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder on Saturday 7th October, RAW in WAR honours Gulalai Ismail and Gauri Lankesh with the 2017 Anna Politkovskaya Award for their courage to speak out and to defy extremism in the context of violence and armed conflict in their countries, for which they suffered death threats and Gauri paid for it with her life. Gulalai opposed the Islamic extremism in Pakistan and Gauri – the Hindu extremism in India and she was murdered on 5th September 2017 when entering her home.
The RAW in WAR Nominations Committee for the 2017 Anna Politkovskaya Award is deeply humbled by Gauri Lankesh’s courage to become the voice of the marginalized and oppressed communities in India and to fiercly oppose religous extremism and violence in the face of grave danger to herself. We are also deeply moved by Gulalai Ismail’s tireless work and determination to build bridges for peace and to promote peaceful resistance to the Taliban, while encouraging more women into politics – despite the danger she is facing.
At this time, when the world has been watching as hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people flee from Myanmar to Bangladesh and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has described the situation of the Rohingya population in Myanmar as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, RAW in WAR wishes to use this opportunity to pay special tribute to Jamalida Begum, a brave Rohingya survivor of rape by Myanmar security forces, currently a refugee in Bangladesh, who, in 2016, spoke out about her own rape and that of three other women in her village and continued to denounce their treatment publicly, at severe personal risk. In so doing, Jamalida Begum played a significant role in drawing the world’s attention to the grave human rights violations being committed against the Rohingya population, including sexual violence committed against Rohingya women and girls, in Myanmar. She is a Brave Voice Refusing To Be Silenced and joins a growing RAW community of women survivors and activists who speak out against atrocities and violations against civilians in conflict zones around the world.