RSF pays tribute to Asma Jahangir on her death

Asma Jahangir died of cardiac arrest in Lahore on Sunday at the age of 66.

As a founder of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Women's Action Forum and as the United Nations rapporteur on human rights, she upheld causes related to women, children, bonded labour, minorities, political prisoners, missing persons, victims of honour killings, acid attack survivors and so on at a time when retrograde practices against women, minorities and children were institutionalized in Pakistan's civil and criminal laws.

The funeral prayers were led by Haider Farooq Mududi, and in which government officials, large number of lawyers, judges, celebrities and citizens participated. Also, in 1995, Asma Jahangir became the second-ever victor of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, the first of many worldwide accolades that would come her way. After serving as one of the leaders of the Lawyers' Movement, she became Pakistan's first woman to serve as the President of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan.

RSF said it shared grief of this leading Pakistani activist's family and offered its condolences to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. People also hailed her services for democracy, judiciary and minorities. In 1987, she went one better, establishing the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent body that still fights for justice in Pakistan.

A news release by the journalists' network expressed sorrow over the demise of the human rights icon "who dedicated her life to defending the freedom to inform in Pakistan and then in the entire world".

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Ms Jahangir was the current UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, having assumed the position on 1 November 2016.

She was critical of the Supreme Court for "judicial activism" and also criticised the apex court for disqualifying Nawaz Sharif from the office of prime minister in July past year.

Chief Minister's Special Assistant on Women Development Iram Khalid highlighted Asma's great efforts in making humans, including women, more empowered based on the principle of equality. Although she was not given permission to pursue her mandate within the country, she collected evidence of human rights violations and documented these for her submission to the General Assembly. She defended minority Christians charged with blasphemy, an offense that under Pakistan's controversial law carries the death penalty. As she told Amnesty International at the time, "They have done everything to intimidate me".

Daughter of Malik Ghulam Jilani, who himself fought military dictatorship all his life not knowing it would become a permanent feature even under democracy, Asma attended Convent of Jesus and Mary in Lahore and got her BA from Kinnaird College in Lahore.

The Karachi Bar Association, the Malir Bar Association and the Sindh Bar Council (SBC) also observed a day of mourning.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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