Leading Pakistani Rights Activist Asma Jehangir Dies At 66


Leading Pakistani human rights advocate, lawyer and former United Nations special rapporteur Asma Jahangir has died of cardiac arrest, her family said Sunday.

To be a successful activist lawyer, she once noted, one must "have an eye for what's hot, the right case, the right bench".

Soon, she was taking on controversial legal cases that thrust her into the public eye but also involved violence, prison and death threats. While she received several national awards, including the Sitara-I-Imtiaz in 1995, Jahangir was again put under house arrest in November 2007 after President Pervez Musharraf imposed Emergency. Her daughter Muneezay Jahangir is a journalist and TV anchorperson.

She also served as the head of nonprofit Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Jehangir co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and was president of the Supreme Court's Bar Association. Pakistan has lost its most fearless crusader and the human rights movement its tallest leader.

She was a wise and courageous warrior of human rights who included in her report the complaints of families regarding the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran. In 2012 she claimed her life was in danger from the feared Inter Services Intelligence spy agency.

While presenting her report to the Human Rights Council, she was interrupted by a furious Syrian representative who assailed her at the behest of the Iranian regime.

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She asked whether the two Bangladeshis were more important than the people living in Pakistan.

French government had conferred the highest civilian honour on Asma Jahangir in 2014 and she was awarded the Swedish alternative to Nobel Prize for her struggle to defend people s rights.

A secular-minded Muslim, Ms. Jehangir defended the rights of Christians and other minorities throughout her career, denouncing the abuse of blasphemy laws against them.

In the photo above, she is seen addressing a protest rally in 2009 against the public flogging of a veiled woman.

Known for her outspoken nature and unrelenting pursuit for human rights, she is survived by a son and two daughters.

"She was and will remain an inspiration". He said that the death of Asma Jahangir is an irreplaceable loss for democratic forces and those who raise their voices for human rights.

She received several awards, both national and global, for her incalculable efforts for human rights everywhere. "I feel very proud that he went to jail because he did the right thing", she told The Daily Star in an interview after receiving the award.