For Immediate Release: September 8, 2017
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) and the European Council of Skeptical Organizations (ECSO) jointly condemned the murder of journalist and rationalist Gauri Lankesh, 55, in Bengaluru, India. Lankesh was shot down Tuesday evening by unidentified terrorists at the entrance of her home.
Gauri Lankesh was editor of a weekly magazine and a vehement critic of the right-wing populist “Hindutva” policy of the Indian government. She had fervently opposed the caste system and used her voice to speak for the oppressed and exploited in Indian society.
CFI is a U.S.-based organization that seeks to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values, which includes the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), publisher of Skeptical Inquirer magazine. ECSO is a coalition of skeptical organizations in Europe that aims to co-ordinate activities of organizations and individuals to critically investigate pseudoscientific and paranormal claims and make the results of its investigations known to the broad public.
“This abominable murder is an attack on democracy and the freedom of the press in India,” said Amardeo Sarma, a fellow of CSI, board member of ECSO, and Chairman of the German Skeptics organization GWUP. “It shows the great dangers our friends in India face when they stand up for reason and science or firmly come up against superstition and backwardness.”
“We’ve lost far too many friends and allies to the violence of religious and ideological extremists around the world,” said Barry Karr, Executive Director of CFI’s Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. “But we can’t let the perpetrators get the last word. They want to silence dissent, but we will never be quiet about the fundamental human rights to free expression and inquiry.”
“The elimination of voices of reason by silencing them through murder is the hallmark of those cowardly dunces who do have no arguments to counter those put forward by us,” said Narendra Nayak, President of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Organizations (FIRA). “As a fellow member on the hit list of these organizations, I feel sad that I have lost a good friend and a supporter. She was one of those who was not afraid to speak her mind on any issue which she felt was important.”
The Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations is committed to promoting humanism and the development of scientific temper and humanism in India.
CFI and ECSO share this grief and the feeling of loss. The murder of Gauri Lankesh is part of a series of attacks against those who have campaigned in India for rationalism and against superstition. Previous victims in India included the rationalists M. M. Kalburgi and Narendra Dabholkar.
ECSO and CFI call upon the European Union, the United States, and Canada to stand up in defense of all those who are committed to human rights, reason, science, and freedom of expression. They also appeal to all democratic politicians worldwide: “India is the world’s second-most populous country. It is not only a global economic power but a nuclear power as well. What happens in India concerns us all.”