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Killed For Defending Blasphemy Accused — Remembering Rashid Rehman

Six year ago today, a member of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and a human rights lawyer Rashid Rehman was mercilessly killed at his office in Multan for defending a blasphemy accused professor Junaid Hafeez.

Rashid Rehman who was also HRCP’S coordinator for the Punjab office, had been facing threats for pleading the case of Junaid Hafeez.

On May 8, 2014 – a day after his murder, an unsigned pamphlet was distributed in Multan saying Rehman met his ‘rightful end’ for trying to save someone who ‘disrespected’ Prophet Muhammad PBUH. “We warn all lawyers to be afraid of god and think twice before engaging in such acts,” the pamphlet said.

While working for HRCP, Rashid Rehman frequently denounced the repression of Pakistan’s dwindling religious minorities. Following his murder, the rights commission said that the lawyer began receiving threats from other lawyers as soon as he took the case of Junaid Hafeez. “During arguments for acquittal of the accused [Junaid], three persons addressed defense lawyer Rashid Rehman, in the judge’s presence, and said: ‘You will not come to court next time because you will not exist anymore’,” the commission said in April 2014.

According to UK’s The Independent, following the burial of human rights activist, lawyers in Multan protested over the killing of their colleague. “Every time someone without means approached him for help, he would take his case without considering how mighty the opponent could be. He was also very fond of reading, but he spent most of his time helping the needy,” said Mr Rehman’s junior colleague, Allah Daad.

The news outlet reported that the lawyer and activist had no children but he lived in an extended family. The family now has no source of income. “He never used to tell us anything about the work he was doing. He was a man of devotion and spent his entire life working for the poor. I would ask him to do something for me using his contacts but he said he would always use his contacts for the poor,” said Rehman’s niece.

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Naya Daur