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Muhammad Jan Gigyani


Muhammad Jan Gigyani was a well-known human rights defender and lawyer. A long-time advocate for the rights of the poorest and most down-trodden members of society, he regularly took on women’s rights and labour rights cases in courts. He was amongst the core members of Amn Tehreek (Peace Movement), a group promoting peace in the troubled regions of the province, back in 2009. Muhammad Jan Gigyani notably performed absentia funeral prayers for Alesha, a transgender woman human rights defender who was shot on 22 May 2016 and died three days later. She was the coordinator of the TransAction Alliance, a group defending the rights of the transgender community in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Muhammad Jan Gigyani was a member of Charsadda Bar Association and the former president of Shabqadar Bar Association, and he acted as a provincial counsel member for the secular Qaumi Watan Party (QWP)

Pakistan is one of the most challenging countries in the region for human rights defenders, who face high risks including killing, arbitrary arrest and detention, abduction and kidnapping, surveillance, threats and judicial harassment. Many HRDs have had their offices attacked or burnt down and their colleagues killed.

In Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), security agencies, religious groups, militants, and armed gangs all target HRDs. Strong sectarian violence and numerous killings of HRDs in Balochistan has forced most NGOs to close their offices and relocated their staff outside the area. HRDs working defending the rights of women in the tribal areas where extremist groups operate face the highest risks. Besides threats by security agencies and armed groups, WHRDs from KP and FATA often received threats by their own family members, who exert pressure on them to quit human rights work. Many WHRDs received threats that something bad will happen to their children.