Farewell human rights defender Aegile Fernandez

Former Malaysian YCW leader, Aegile Fernandez, who was also the co-founder of the human rights NGO, Tenaganita, died on 9 March at the age of 72, Herald Malaysia reports.

“Aegile has been a warm glow of comfort in so many lives and a bright and enduring light in the fight for justice and equality. We ask that if you are comfortable, please light a candle for her today,” her family said in an announcement.

“Importantly, she’d want you to keep up her mission for justice, her practice of kindness, her open heart to all who have the least.

“In the words of Aegile, her reminder to us of her mission in life: Ask me not what’s my race or creed, just take me in my hour of need,” the announcement read.

Aegile hailed from the rubber plantations of Sungai Petani, Kedah, and was the younger sister of Tenaganita’s founder Irene Fernandez who died in 2014.

She joined the YCW at the age of sixteen, beginning a social commitment that led to her lifetime of work with prisoners, sex workers, drug addicts, HIV/Aids patients, domestic abuse victims, refugees, human trafficking victims, and abused children.

She joined Tenaganita in 1993 as her sister was setting up a migrant and human trafficking desk.

She vowed that she could never stop her work because there is so much to be done.

“We have one fewer human rights defender of migrants, women and the poor,” commented federal parliamentarian, Charles Santiago, another former YCW leader. “But her legacy will carry on in the work of Tenaganita and many more. Farewell, my friend. Rest in peace.”

University of Nottingham Malaysia’s Bridget Welsh described Fernandez as a warrior for justice, adding that her spirit would live on despite her passing.

“For decades she fought for the rights of migrants and Malaysians selflessly and worked towards a more tolerant, kind and inclusive world,” she said.

Social and political activist Ambiga Sreenevasan also took to Twitter to pay tribute to the Tenaganita co-founder, saying she spent her life “fighting the good fight”.


Tenaganita co-founder Aegile Fernandez dies (Herald Malaysia)


Lim Huey Teng / Malaysiakini