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Pakistan activist honoured with top UN human rights award

Pakistan’s renowned social activist Asma Jahangir was posthumously honoured by the UN with a prestigious human rights award.

Jahangir, an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s powerful military establishment, fought against religious extremism and for the rights of oppressed minorities in Pakistan. She died of cardiac arrest at the age of 66 in February.

She was honoured with the 2018 United Nations Human Rights Prize, an award given every five years since 1968.

Jahangir’s daughter Munizae Jahangir received the award on her behalf from President of the UN General Assembly María Fernanda Espinosa at a special ceremony at the United Nations on Tuesday.

Among others who won the award include girls’ education rights activist Rebeca Gyumi of Tanzania, Brazil’s first indigenous woman lawyer Joenia Batista de Carvalho and Front Line Defenders from Ireland, working to protect human rights defenders at risk.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the work of the honourees and that of other human rights defenders around the world is essential for the collective efforts to sustain peace and ensure inclusive sustainable development and respect for human rights for all.

“Often their work is dangerous. We regularly hear of abuses against human rights defenders — murder, disappearances, torture, arbitrary imprisonment and other attempts to silence them.

“Yet, these courageous individuals and groups remain committed to shining a light on the dark corners of the globe, wherever human rights violations occur,” he said in his remarks to the General Assembly’s United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights award ceremony.

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