Human rights icon Asma Jahangir passes away in Lahore

Prominent lawyer and human rights icon Asma Jahangir passed away after suffering a stroke. She was 66 years old.

Jahangir’s funeral will be held at 2:30 PM on Tuesday, February 13 outside the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, her family said.

Officials at the private hospital where Jahangir passed away said she was brought to the hospital unconscious after suffering brain hemorrhage resulting from a stroke.

They added that despite several attempts to bring her blood pressure back to normal, she passed away in a state of unconsciousness.

Jahangir’s sister, lawyer and human rights activist Hina Jilani, told that “the way she [Asma] lived, it’s not just the family’s loss but also of those who are voiceless and whose voices she raised”.

Earlier, her daughter, broadcast journalist Munizae Jahangir, shared on Twitter that the family is awaiting relatives to return to Lahore before the funeral can be held.

Bar associations across the country have said they will be observing three days of mourning and not partake in court proceedings.

Pakistan People’s Party senator and advocate Aitzaz Ahsan on Jahangir’s demise, said that she was a very brave woman and always fought against patriarchy and oppression.

Ahsan said that she never feared or backed down from saying what she wanted to say.

Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf said her death came as a national loss and her work for women rights and democracy will be etched in history.

Ex-president SC bar Ali Zafar said that the services rendered by Asma Jahangir for basic rights of people and struggle for the marginalised will never be forgotten.

Jahangir remained the head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Supreme Court Bar Association.

She was known for taking up court cases of victimised and marginalised sections of society, as well as speaking against human rights violations and her courageous stand against the military rule of General Zia-ul-Haq.

An author and staunch activist of democracy, Jahangir also received several accolades for her work on human rights.

Jahangir was also a vocal opponent of judicial overreach and would often confront the superior judiciary when it would extend its jurisdiction in her opinion.

In the last post on her Twitter account, Jahangir cautioned the Supreme Court from selectively using the contempt of court law.

Asma Jahangir (1952-2018)
Born in Lahore on January 27, 1952, Jahangir completed her bachelors of arts and law from Lahore and then went on to pursue higher legal studies from Switzerland, Canada and US.

Jahangir taught constitutional law at Quaid-e-Azam Law College, Lahore.

She conducted consultancy on judicial reforms in Pakistan and Bangladesh for the Asian Development Bank and World Bank. Jahangir also remained a member of the Commission of Enquiry for Women from 1994-1997.

From 1998-2000 Jahangir served as the special rapporteur of the UN Commission on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions and was the special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief of the UN Commission on Human Rights since 2004.

Jahangir was also an executive member at the International Crisis Group and chief economist advisory council member of World Bank since 2001.

She was also the founding member of Women’s Action Forum, Pakistan.

Jahangir also received several awards, including the 2014 Right Livelihood Award, 2010 Freedom Award, Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 2010 and Sitara-e-Imtiaz, UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights in 2010 and an Officier de la Légion d’honneur by France in 2014. The Legion of Honour is the highest French award.

At present, she was a partner at AGHS Law Associates and head of its legal aid cell.

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