Leading human rights lawyer, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Ms. Asma Jahangir, passed away in Lahore on Sunday, February 11, 2018.
Asma Jahangir, 66, was a human rights lawyer based in Pakistan and was Pakistan’s first woman to serve as the President of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan.
She was known for taking up court cases of victimized and marginalized sections of society and for her outspoken nature and unrelenting pursuit for human rights. She remained fearless in the face of any pressure and opposition and stood for what she believed in.
Asma Jahangir was the first UN Rapporteur who included in her report the complaints of families regarding the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran. As she was presenting her report to the Human Rights Council, she was interrupted by a furious Syrian representative who assailed her at the behest of the Iranian regime. But she remained calm and firm and continued her report to the Council and was undeterred in pursuing her mandate.
The world has lost a passionate champion of human rights and a staunch supporter of democracy. May her soul rest in peace.
Jahangir was born in Lahore in January 1952.
She received a Bachelors’ degree from Kinnaird College and an LLB from Punjab University. She was called to the Lahore High Court in 1980 and to the Supreme Court in 1982. She later went on to become the first woman to serve as president of the Supreme Court Bar Association.
She became a pro-democracy activist and was jailed in 1983 for participating in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, which agitated against military dictator Ziaul Haq’s regime.
She was also active in the 2007 Lawyers’ Movement, for which she was put under house arrest.
She co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and the Women’s Action Forum.
She received several awards, including a Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 2010 and a Sitara-i-Imtiaz. 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.
She received the 2014 Right Livelihood Award and the 2010 Freedom Award.