Human Rights Lawyer Asma Jahangir: Why She Inspired India And Pakistan

Asma Jahangir

Human rights activist Asma Jahangir passed away in Lahore on Sunday. She suffered from a cardiac arrest and was 66 years old at the time of her death. She was an outspoken advocate for the disenfranchised in Pakistan and was also a renowned lawyer.

Here are a few things to know about her:

She was born in Lahore in 1952. She studied law and started practicing at the Lahore High Court in 1980. She then moved on to the Supreme Court and became the first woman to serve as president of the Supreme Court Bar Association.

In 1986, she moved to Geneva, and became the vice-chair of the Defence for Children International. She remained in that position till 1988 when she moved back to Pakistan.

She was a pro-democracy activist. In 1983 she was jailed for taking part in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, which was protesting against military dictator Ziaul Haq. She was also put under house arrest for taking part in the 2007 Lawyer’s Movement.

She co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and the Women’s Action Forum. She also ran the AGHS Legal Aid Cell with her sister Hina Jilani. The cell helped women in distress.

She received may awards, including the  2014 Right Livelihood Award and the 2010 Freedom Award.

She was also awarded a UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights and an Officier de la Légion d’honneur by France.

Condolences have been pouring in for her on social media: 

“Today the country has been deprived of a courageous and disciplined person, who was the voice of the voiceless,” Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said.

“Asma Jahangir , undoubtedly the bravest and the most resilient fighter for human rights who had the courage to face the wrath of the dictators and the fury of the fundamentalist Mulla has passed away . It is the loss of the whole Sub continent,” tweeted Javed Akhtar.

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