'Moral Compass' Asma Jahangir Laid to Rest

USCIRF Mourns Death of Leading Pakistani Human Rights Defender

Haider Farooq Maududi led social activist's funeral prayers.

Asma Jahangir's sudden death has come as a shock to many of us.

Asma was also a co-founder and chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, besides being the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Iran since 2016.

Her vigorous defence of minority, religious, and women rights saw her serve as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion from 2004 to 2010, and more recently she was named the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran in 2016. She successfully took up the Saima Waheed case, which guaranteed the right of adult women to make their own choice in marriage - one of the most important cases in Pakistan's legal history.

Asma became a champion democracy activist and was subsequently imprisoned in 1983 for participating in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy against the military rule of Pakistans longest-serving President Zia-ul Haq.

Jahangir faced death threats for her criticism of Pakistan's military, intelligence and armed groups, including a plot by the country's Inter-Services Intelligence. Following her studies, she appeared in court defending her father against the charges brought against him. Bestowed the Magsaysay award and the "alternative Nobel", i.e. the Right Livelihood Award, Jahangir's campaign for human rights and democracy is no less important than that of other Nobel peace prize winners like the Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo, Iranian lawyer Shirin Ibadi or Yemen's journalist Tawakkol Karman, who all fought against the forces of authoritarianism and fundamentalism at great personal risk and sacrifice.

RSF said it shared grief of this leading Pakistani activist's family and offered its condolences to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

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The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan that she co-founded has defended religious minorities in blasphemy cases as well as taken on cases of honour killings.

We will remember Asma for her activism in the court in her own country, in global platforms and her contributions to regional fora.

Asma Jahangir was shifted to hospital on Sunday but could not survive the cardiac arrest.

Ahsan said that she never feared or backed down from saying what she wanted to say. Her chapter was entitled Human Rights Are Women's Rights, because, as she told me: "You can not have human rights in a society if you do not have women's rights".

"With her passing, humanity has lost a true champion of justice".

Jahangir was arrested in 2007 by the government of then-military ruler Pervez Musharraf and held under house arrest. Her work to uphold freedom of expression is particularly close to what we stand for and we hope to carry on her legacy. The cases she saw there motivated her to fight for women's rights for the rest of her life.

"In addition to this", he added, "out of respect of Ms Jahangir, the Sindh government has announced a day of mourning".

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