Rehman campaigned at personal risk for amendments to country’s controversial blasphemy laws that domestic and international rights groups say are often used to intimidate religious minorities.
Iconic Pakistani human rights defender and journalist, IA Rehman. has died in the eastern city of Lahore after a brief illness. He was 90.
Rehman died of old age, high blood sugar, and blood pressure level, Harris Khalique, secretary general at the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said on Monday.
Rehman had been associated with the commission for a long time.
He spent his life defending human rights, opposing military dictators, fighting for the rule of law and democracy.
I A Rehman, HRCP's hon. spokesperson, calls the #JunaidHafeez verdict 'brutal and unjust. He has been in prison for six years for no reason. It is an open fact that trial courts in Pakistan rarely acquit accused in blasphemy cases.' @ShahmeerAlbalos https://t.co/XqThPCLj3f— Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (@HRCP87) December 22, 2019
I.A. Rehman, the great sage of Pakistan's human rights movement, has died.— Declan Walsh (@declanwalsh) April 12, 2021
Born in pre-partition India and a protégé of Faiz, his disappointment with the failings of Pakistan was counterbalanced by his evident love for the country. I learned much from him. R.I.P. https://t.co/Y1OfNlHlCD
Rehman was also a strong voice for the country’s minorities, including Christians and Hindus.
Rehman worked as an editor for various newspapers before joining the commission. He regularly contributed articles for Pakistani newspapers.
Rehman was born in 1930 in Haryana in neighbouring India before Pakistan got independence from British colonial rule in 1947. He was the author of three books an advocate of peace between Pakistan and India, the two South Asian nuclear rivals who have fought three wars since 1947.
Deepest condolences to the family @AshRehman , human rights community @HRCP87, friends and scores of disciples of #IARehman sahib. It is a colossal collective loss for all of us whose lives Rehman sahib touched as a teacher, mentor, comrade or advocate. May his soul RIP— Mohammad Taqi (@mazdaki) April 12, 2021
Rahman sb was an inspiration. A champion of human rights. A hero of press freedom. A national icon. His passing away renders Pakistan poorer. We will miss him dearly. May his soul rest in eternal peace. Ameen.— Muhammad Ziauddin (@MuhammadZiauddi) April 12, 2021
'The end of an era'
Rehman campaigned for amendments to the country's controversial blasphemy laws, which domestic and international rights groups say have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and to settle personal scores.
The reports of his death prompted an outpouring of grief on social media, with Cabinet ministers to the country's opposition paying tributes to Rehman for his contribution to journalism and human rights.
Sad to hear of the passing of I A Rehman - a unique personality - as someone said "a marxist-democrat" who stood by & struggled steadfastly for what he believed in. Respect. RIP.— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) April 12, 2021
Among the mourners was Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who tweeted that the country had lost “a true icon.”
Pakistan has lost a true icon today with the passing of I.A. Rehman. A staunch advocate and activist for Human Rights and an intellectual, I.A Rehman sahib leaves behind a rich legacy that speaks of tolerance, inclusion, equality and dignity.— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) April 12, 2021
A longtime friend, human rights defender Afrasiab Khattak, tweeted that Rehman's death marked “the end of an era.”
Death of I A Rehman, a scholar, a journalist and leader of HR movement in Pakistan and South Asia is the end of an era. He was a mild giant who led generations of Pakistanis in struggle for democratic freedoms.— Afrasiab Khattak (@a_siab) April 12, 2021
جو بادہ کش تھے پرانے وہ اٹھتے جاتے ہیں
کہیں سے آب بقاۓ دوام لا ساقی pic.twitter.com/T4E6MVGHcC
The US consulate in the eastern city of Lahore also extended condolences to Rehman's family and friends, calling him “a journalist and defender of human rights.”
Rehman, the statement said, “will inspire countless future generations.”
On behalf of the U.S. Consulate General Lahore, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of I.A. Rehman, a journalist and defender of human rights. His voice was a pillar for human rights and will inspire countless future generations. ~ CG Catherine— U.S. Consulate General Lahore (@USCGLahore) April 12, 2021
RIP I A Rehman, one of the greats of the global human rights movement and a moral compass for all of us. An irreplaceable loss for human rights defenders and victims of rights abuses everywhere. Condolences to Rehman Sb's family, @HRCP87 and his comrades. #IARehman pic.twitter.com/Ypv2UYck2H— Rabia Mehmood - رابعہ (@Rabail26) April 12, 2021
Rehman was expected to be buried in the city of Lahore later Monday.