South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, is deeply saddened by the passing away of Mr. I A Rehman, the long standing human rights and peace activist from Pakistan, at the age of 90, on 12 April 2021. Not only was he a founder member of SAHR and a bureau member, but he was also a long standing pillar of strength as an advisor and a mentor who always wished the best for SAHR and strived to do his best for the human rights community in South Asia.

Mr. Rehman was a legend of the South Asian civil society and the human rights community for decades and the impact of his work was felt across the region. He will be remembered for his astute values, inherence dignity and integrity, defiant penmanship and fearless advocacy. He never hesitated to ‘walk the talk’ when it came to protecting human rights, peace and democratic values of the people in Pakistan as well as the region. As truly said by Pakistani activist Salima Hashimi on Mr. Rehman’s demise, “today, not one man, but one movement, an entire era has passed away”.

Mr. Rehman played several significant roles with an enduring passion in his life to bring about a positive change to the people of his country and the region. He was a veteran journalist with a career of around 65 years. He held the positions of Editor in Chief of the Pakistan Times, the Managing Editor of Urdu Daily Azad, and the Executive Editor of weekly Viewpoint. He had authored three books – Parliamentarian, Arts and Crafts of Pakistan and Pakistan under Siege. He was a regular columnist for Dawn newspaper which he used to the maximum for advocacy against violations occurring in Pakistan today. As a prominent Human Rights Defender, he was a co-founder of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) where he held the position of Director and later the Secretary General till December 2016. Mr. Rehman was a founder member of the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) and contributed immensely towards efforts for peace between India and Pakistan. He was also granted prestigious awards such as Ramon Magsaysay award (2004) and the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award (2003).

Mr. Rehman was always available to assist and contribute to SAHR’s regional activities despite being advised to avoid air travel. In the past few years, he was a member of the fact finding mission to the Maldives in 2015, he made sure that he attended the memorial event for late Asma Jahangir, his comrade in arms, in 2018 and spoke to the then SAHR bureau about the future plans for SAHR upon Asma’s sudden demise. Mr. Rehman readily accepted SAHR’s invitation to be a member of the regional panel at the first Asma Jahangir Conference in 2018. Since then he has, at numerous occassions, advised SAHR in shaping its future facing new challenges.

We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. I A Rehman. We have lost a stalwart friend, mentor and fellow human rights activist who worked to defend human rights of the people all his life.

We shall work hard, as you encouraged us, to continue your good work towards protecting and promoting human rights and peace in the region. Rest in Peace, Mr. Rehman.


On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights,

Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy
Chairperson

Dr. Roshmi Goswami
Co-Chairperson

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