Activist Rafiq Hajat dies

Malawian Rights activist Rafiq Hajat, 65, has died after suffering heart attack.

Hajat has died this morning and funeral arrangements are yet to be announced by his family.

Hajat was born in Blantyre in 1955 and he got a degree in political science at Saint Xavier College in India in 1975.

He is the founding director of the Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) in Malawi and for years he provided commentary on political developments in the media.

During the Bingu wa Mutharika administration in 2011, Hajat was one of the organizers of the 20 July anti-government demonstrations in which several protesters were shot by police.

Hajat went into hiding after the protests and his offices were later torched by suspected regime thugs.

Meanwhile, Malawians on social media have expressed sadness over the death of the rights activist who has been described as a true patriot who fought for social justice and human rights.

“Rest well my good friend,” wrote United Democratic Front President Atupele Muluzi.

Rights activist Habiba Osman who is executive director of Malawi Human Rights Commission said learnt a lot from Hajat.

“We debated on issues of governance and human rights! He helped to shape some of the human rights narrative, we have today, in this country. We will miss his patriotism, human rights defending and wisdom to stand up and speak out,” she wrote.

Social commentator Onjezani Kenani said Hajat’s death is a blow to activism.

He wrote: “Shocked to hear news of Rafiq Hajat’s passing. For decades he fought fearlessly for the rights of marginalized Malawians. His voice was steady and unwavering. His departure leaves a vacuum and is a blow to activism. Rest in peace, Mr. Hajat. From Allah we come, and to Him alone we shall return.”

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