Tributes paid to Asma Jahangir at UN on receiving top human rights award posthumously
UNITED NATIONS: A daughter of Pakistan's iconic human rights activist and lawyer Asma Jahangir received the top United Nations human rights prize that was awarded posthumously to her distinguished mother, at an impressive ceremony in the General Assembly hall.
The award, a plaque, was handed over to Munizae Jahangir by the President of the General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, who conducted the proceedings before a large number of diplomats, human rights activists and senior UN officials.
"I wish my mother was alive today to receive this prestigious UN award," Munizae said while speaking to APP after the ceremony at which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet also participated, and paid tributes to Asma Jahangir's contributions to advancing human rights and rule of law. "The void left by her passing away cannot be filled," she said.
Others who received the award: Ms. Rebeca Gyumi, a Tanzanian activist for the rights of women and girls, Ms. Joenia Wapichana, a Brazilian activist for the rights of indigenous communities, and Front Line Defenders, an Irish organization advocating and working for the protection of human rights.
Mrs. Jahangir, who passed away in February this year, was known for her outspoken nature and unrelenting pursuit for human rights as well as for remaining undaunted in the face of extreme pressure and opposition.
She is also remembered as a champion of the disenfranchised and for her services towards building a democratic and more inclusive Pakistan.
Mrs. Jahangir also served as the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions from 1998 to 2004, and as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief from 2004 to 2010.
The award is given to individuals and organizations in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Previous recipients have included Nelson Mandela, Amnesty International, Jimmy Carter, Eleanor Roosevelt, Reverend Dr. Martin L. King and Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, as well as Ra'ana Liaquat Ali Khan, wife of Pakistan's first Pakistani prime minister, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan and leader of Pakistan People's Party, and Malala Yousafzai, a prominent Pakistani education activist.
The Human Rights Prize is awarded every five years, in accordance with a resolution of the General Assembly that was adopted in 1966. The prize was first awarded on 10 December 1968, the International Year for Human Rights and the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.