Calls to Ramp Up Global Fights for Human Rights After Death of Pakistani Advocate Asma Jahangir
- September 25, 2020
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The death of renowned Pakistani human rights advocate Asma Jahangir on Sunday elicited an outpouring of condolences and calls to action, with fellow advocates and political figures from across the globe calling for a wave of renewed energy in fights for freedom, to honor her memory.
“She was always on the front line for progressive voices, even when democracy was under threat.”
—Sherry Rehman, friend and Pakistani politician
Jahangir, a lawyer by training, was jailed during the 1980s for her pro-democracy work, served for years as a United Nations special rapporteur, and helped found the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. She died Sunday, after suffering a heart attack, at the age of 66.
“In Pakistan, she campaigned tirelessly for democracy and free speech, frequently receiving death threats for taking up causes such as criticizing the strict blasphemy laws of the conservative Muslim-majority country,” Reuters notes. “She also represented several civil society organizations that were threatened with shutdown as well as families of several ‘disappeared’ activists over the past few years.”
In 2014, Jahangir—along with whistleblower Edward Snowden, climate crusader Bill McKibben, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridge, and Sri Lankan human rights activist Basil Fernando—received The Right Livelihood Award, which is often called the Alternative Nobel Prize.
Both Snowden and McKibben turned to Twitter to express their condolences and remind the world about the causes Jahangir championed:
“She was always on the front line for progressive voices, even when democracy was under threat,” Sherry Rehman, an opposition senator in Pakistan’s parliament, told Al-Jazeera. “As a close friend, we bickered on issues, but she introduced me to human rights when I was a young journalist…. We are all reeling from shock, the global human rights community is bereft—one of Pakistan’s brightest faces is gone.”
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