LAHORE: First death anniversary of human rights lawyer and social activist, Asma Jilani Jahangir is being observed today (Monday).
Born and raised in Lahore, Jahangir studied at the Convent of Jesus and Mary before receiving her B.A. from Kinnaird and LLB from the Punjab University in 1978.
Asma Jahangir was also known for co-founding and chairing the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. She played a prominent role in the Lawyers’ Movement and served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
In the 1980s, Jahangir became a democracy activist and was imprisoned in 1983 for participating in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy against the military regime of Zia-ul-Haq.
Jahangir, in 1987, co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and became its Secretary-General. In 1993, she was elevated as the commission’s chairperson. She was again put under house arrest in November 2007 after the imposition of emergency.
After serving as one of the leaders of the Lawyers’ Movement, she became Pakistan’s first woman to serve as the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association.
Jahangir served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion from August 2004 to July 2010, including serving on the U.N. panel for inquiry into Sri Lankan human rights violations and on a fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements.
In 2016, she was named as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, remaining till until her death in February 2018.
It is noteworthy to mention that Asma Jahangir is also the recipient of several awards including the 2014 Right Livelihood Award (along with Edward Snowden), 2010 Freedom Award, Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 2010, Sitara-i-Imtiaz, Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2005, 1995 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, and the UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights.
She was awarded a Legion of Honour by France, and in 2016 the University of Pennsylvania Law School awarded her an honorary degree.
Jahangir was posthumously awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz on the 23rd March 2018, the highest degree of service to the state, and for services to international diplomacy by Mamnoon Hussain.
On 11 February 2018, Asma Jahangir suffered from a stroke leading to a brain haemorrhage in Lahore on and later died in hospital.