Pakistani Human Rights Activists Asma Jehangir Dies of Heart Attack

ICC Note: Asma Jehangir, one of Pakistan most outspoken human rights activists, died on Sunday of a sudden heart attack in Lahore. Jehangir was known for her human right work in Pakistan, including the defense of Christians facing severe persecution from the country’s religious fanatics. Many Pakistani Christians will miss Jehangir’s tireless work to provide them with equal rights and religious freedom.

02/12/2018 Pakistan (Washington Post) – Asma Jehangir, one of Pakistan’s most prominent right activists and lawyers, died on Sunday of a heart attack in the eastern city of Lahore at the age of 66, her daughter said.

News of Jehangir’s sudden death shook political, social and media circles in Pakistan, as well as government ranks. President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and others offered condolences.

Jehangir suffered a heart attack late on Saturday night and was rushed to hospital where she died early on Sunday, her daughter Munizae said.

Born on Jan. 27 in 1952, Jehangir had a prominent career both as a lawyer and rights activist.

She has served as chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and was widely respected for her outspoken criticism of the country’s militant and extreme Islamist groups and unparalleled record as rights activist.

Jehangir also served as president of the Supreme Court’s Bar Association and was a U.N. rapporteur on human right and extrajudicial killings.

She was on Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential women.

“We have lost a human rights giant. She was a tireless advocate for inalienable rights of all people and for equality – whether in her capacity as a Pakistani lawyer in the domestic justice system, as a global civil society activist, or as a Special Rapporteur,” the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a statement.

“Asma was brilliant, deeply principled, courageous and kind,” he said. “Asma will not be forgotten.”

A fierce defender of democracy, she often criticized Pakistan’s military and intelligence. She defended minority Christians charged with blasphemy, an offense that under Pakistan’s controversial law carries the death penalty.

She was repeatedly threatened by the country’s militant religious right whom she criticized loudly and often.

A champion of human rights, Jehangir was unafraid to speak loudly against those attacking minority religions and women. She won scores of international awards. Several years ago, she briefly sent her family out of the country following threats from militant groups.

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