Mahanirban Calcutta Research group


 I. A. Rahman PASS AWAY

One of the tallest human rights defenders of South Asia Ibn Abdur Rahman or I. A. Rahman as he was called is no more. He died on the 12th of April, 2021 at his Lahore residence at the age of 90. Born in Haryana and studied at Aligarh Muslim University in colonial India, he moved with his family to Pakistan on the eve of violence during the Partition. He was a journalist. He became the editor-in-chief of The Pakistan Times in 1989. As a prolific writer in both Urdu and English, he was associated with several newspapers in Pakistan. He was one of the top columnists in The Dawn till his death.

As life long human rights activist he stood for democracy, fought for the protection of refugees, migrants, political prisoners, and the rights of minorities facing numerous threats from autocratic regimes. He will be remembered for his bold and historic stand against atrocities committed by the Pakistani forces in Bangladesh in 1971, his defiance against the Martial law regime of General Ziaul Haq and later the Emergency imposed by General Pervez Musharaf. He was vocal on the issue of the protection of minority rights in Sindh and Balochistan. He fought several cases against the state atrocities even during the military regime. One of his several protests and fights was demanding the abolition of blasphemy laws in the 1990s.

His work as a Director (1990-2008) and Secretary General (2008-2016) of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), his integrity, and compassion were unparallel. A self proclaimed disciple of the famous poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, I. A. Rahman carried forward the legacy of India-Pakistan people's dialogues and was one of the founders of the Pakistan India People's Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD). The Forum conducted a series of dialogues between peace and human rights activists of Pakistan and India since the mid-1990s. He actively participated in several such discussions and wrote in popular newspapers in favour of restoring peace and friendship between the two countries. As a lifelong doyen of peace and democracy, Rehman won the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2004 for advocating peace and international understanding. He was one of the few people in India and Pakistan who always advocated a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute.

He was also a friend of Calcutta Research Group (CRG). In fact, it was the third joint conference of the Pakistan-India people's Forum for Peace and Democracy (1996) in Calcutta that actually marked the beginning of CRG. He visited the city numerous times, obliged us by accepting our invitations, and graced occasions with his deep commitment to the advocacy work for migrant and refugee communities. He visited the city last time in 2013 when CRG hosted the 14th conference of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) in Kolkata on 6 to 9 January 2013. CRG deeply mourns his departure and reiterates its commitment to the ethics I.A. Rehman had stood for.