Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Courageous voice for voiceless silences today: PM Abbasi on Asma Jahangir's demise

Courageous voice for voiceless silences today: PM Abbasi on Asma Jahangir's demise

Renowned senior lawyer and eminent human rights activist Asma Jahangir passed away in Lahore on Sunday, the DawnNews reported.

Born in January 1952 in Lahore, Asma co-founded and chaired the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Her sister, Jilani, told Pakistan's Geo News TV that her death was "not just the family's loss, but also of those who are voiceless and whose voices she raised". She had also been Supreme Court Bar Association president. She was also appointed as United Nations rapporteur in the region during the 1990s.

The activist was put under house arrest and later imprisoned in 1983 for participating in the movement for the restoration of political and fundamental rights during the military regime of Zia-ul-Haq. Asma Jehangir's death is a great loss of Pakistan.

She was a wise and fearless warrior of human rights who included in her report the complaints of families regarding the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran.

According to reports, she had been suffering from cancer and remained under treatment for years.

She braved death threats, beatings and imprisonment to win landmark human rights cases while standing up to dictators.

Her critics, though, accused her of being an agent of Pakistan's rival India.

Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif spoke about Asma's work for women and stance against dictators, saying it would be hard to fill the void left by her death.

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"I remember meeting her along with party colleagues H S Dhami and Dr Manjinder Singh at Circut House Amritsar on 3rd March 2008 to present memorandum to her on Sikh issues". She served on several missions for the United Nations and won numerous global awards.

One widely shared tweet came from Malala Yousafzai, 20, the Pakistani activist for girls' education who was almost assassinated by Taliban militants as a teenager.

One high-profile moment came in 2007, when Pakistan's dignified legal community launched a street protest movement to demand an end to military rule under army Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Internationally, she was awarded the UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights, an Officier de la Légion d'honneur by France, the 2010, Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, and the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

Nobel Peace Prize victor Malala Yousafzai called her a "saviour of democracy and human rights".

During her long career in law and rights activism, she won freedom for bonded laborers from their "owners", and the right for women to marry of their own volition.

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

"She was courageous and dedicated rights and social activist and above all the voice of the voiceless", said he.

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