Pakistan's 'fearless' rights champion dies at 66

USCIRF Mourns Death of Leading Pakistani Human Rights Defender
RSF pays tribute to Asma Jahangir on her death
Author

15 February, 2018

She reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest and was taken to hospital, where she passed away.

Asma Jahangir's sudden death has come as a shock to many of us. "She will always be remembered for her brilliant record in defense of human rights and her courageous reports on the crimes of the Iranian regime", tweeted Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the NCRI.

Her death has sparked an outpouring of tributes from global human rights groups and political leaders, including the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres - who called her a "human rights giant" - and Pakistan's Nobel prize victor Malala Yousafzai.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which supports Special Rapporteurs and independent experts in the discharge of their mandate, also expressed its sadness at Ms Jahangir's passing. "She confronted injustice wherever she saw it", said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary General.

A recurrent concern for Asma was the increasing intolerance she witnessed not just in her own country but all over the world, and this she considered was the root of all evils.

The positions are honorary and the experts are not United Nations staff, nor are they paid for their work.

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"For decades, Asma bravely fought for the most disadvantaged people in Pakistan, often at great personal risk".

Following news of her death, the CCA expressed its "deep condolences" to her family, friends and admirers. "For years, she courageously defended the rights of those who did not have a voice, and championed the rule of law, democracy, and human rights including freedom of religion or belief", the press release said.

"Asma was a fearless voice of the oppressed and the voiceless people, including women, minorities and other vulnerable communities, and always stood for their rights and spoke the truth". She was in Congo and East Timor for the United Nations when atrocities there were directed mainly on women.

The rights commission which she helped create made its name defending religious minorities and tackling highly charged blasphemy accusations along with cases of 'honour killings in which victims, normally women, are murdered by a relative for bringing shame on the family. With the voices of intolerance getting louder and louder-causing wars, displacement, inequality, gender discrimination, and meaningless violence-Asma Jahangir's was one that challenged the status quo and exposed it with fearlessness and clarity.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashir and other noted lawyers and dignitaries have called for a state funeral in remembrance of her services.

For her work championing minority rights and speaking out against corruption at all levels in Pakistan, Asma Jahangir was targeted by threats on her life by hard lined militants and those within the military establishment.


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