Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Asma Jehangir, prominent Pakistani rights activist, dies

Asma Jehangir, prominent Pakistani rights activist, dies

The human rights champion passed away due to cardiac arrest in Lahore at the age of 66.

A female member of Pakistan's National Assembly, Nafisa Shah, called her the "founder of Pakistan's homegrown human rights movement, a bold, fearless voice of the downtrodden &dispossessed".

She has been quoted in the Herald as saying: "Courts were not new to me".

She was among the rare personalities participated in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) during Ziaul Haq's dictatorial regime and sent to Jail for her activism in 1983.

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She also remained the special rapporteur of the UN Commission on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions from 1998-2004 and was the special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief of the UN Commission on Human Rights since 2004.

Moreover, her daughter, broadcast journalist Munizae Jahangir shared on Twitter that the family is awaiting relatives to return to Lahore before the funeral can be held. She was one of the few Pakistani who spoke against the state atrocities against the Baloch people and fought for their rights. "Her spirit will live as long as that voice in our head keeps telling us what is not right, what must not be tolerated, why not to give in or give up".

She conducted consultancy on judicial reforms in Pakistan and Bangladesh for the Asian Development Bank and World Bank.

A fierce defender of democracy, she often criticized Pakistan's military and intelligence. She represented several clients who were denied their fundamental rights and defended cases of minorities, women and children in prisons.

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She braved death threats, beatings and imprisonment to win landmark human rights cases while standing up to dictators. Over the years, she took on religious laws that blamed rape victims as adulterers, fundamentalist Islamist groups that sought to suppress women, family and cultural traditions that trapped them in abusive marriages, and traditional village councils that meted out rapes and lashings as punishment for suspected illicit relations. "May her soul rest in peace", he added.

Few Pakistani rights activists have achieved the credibility of Jahangir. "A huge loss. Condolences to all whose lives she touched", the filmmaker wrote.

Punjab Governor Malik Rafique Rajwana Sunday expressed condolence over the death of famous lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir.

Nandita said Asma's death was a massive loss to the neighbouring country.

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