Rights activists recall Asma Jahangir

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:35, Feb 27,2018 | Updated: 00:51, Feb 27,2018

 
 

Jurist Dr Kamal Hossain addresses a memorial meeting at Liberation War Museum Auditorium in Dhaka on Monday remembering Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir. — New Age photo

Speakers on Monday commemorated eminent Pakistani human rights advocate Asma Jahangir as ‘a lawyer and human rights activist of the entire world’.
The programme was organised by Bangladeshi rights activists, journalists and lawyers at the Liberation War Museum in the capital to remember this valiant human rights activist.
The speakers also called for taking steps toward promoting Asma’s courageous ideas and activities to all rights activists and the citizens of the world, which can act as inspirations for them.
On February 11, Asma, one of Pakistan’s most prominent human rights activists, died of a heart attack at the age of 66 years.
Senior lawyer and Gana Forum president Dr Kamal Hossain said Asma Jahangir was not a human rights activist of South Asia, but a global rights activist and lawyer.
‘We must remember her always and spread her courageous activities and ideas on human rights and women rights,’ he said.
Veteran economist professor Rehman Sobhan said along with her courtroom arguments to defend human rights, Asma continued her activism on the streets against state, Taliban terrorists, fundamentalists and law enforcement agencies.
The brave Asma never feared to fight against the blasphemy and other religious laws in Pakistan, said rights activist Sultana Kamal who presided over the programme.
‘In Bangladesh, even in recent days, we may not find a lawyer as courageous as her who can stand against issues like blasphemy, women rights and religious issues,’ she said.
Human rights activist and a very close friend of Asma, Hameeda Hossain, shared a story to describe her friend’s courage.
Hameeda shared that in 1971, the Pakistani junta had arrested her father Malik Ghulam Jilani for criticising the then Pakistan’s autocratic ruler Ayub Khan and for supporting the liberation of Bangladesh.
‘Being very young, Asma still embarked on a legal battle against the Pakistani junta for her father, following which Pakistan’s supreme court ruled against the junta,’ she said.
Bangla-language daily Prothom Alo’s editor and publisher Matiur Rahman said, ‘Many of us in Bangladesh, who still remain in fear from expressing themselves, could seek inspiration from her courage.’
Terming Asma as an outspoken person, Khushi Kabir, coordinator of Nijera Kori said that Asma never feared to speak what she thought was right.
‘We often for many reasons limit our words to avoid possible consequences. But Asma never did this,’ she said.
The speakers remembered the role of Asma Jahangir in favour of Bangladesh’s independence during 1971 even in her homeland as she demanded punishment for atrocities by Pakistani forces.

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