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Aegile Fernandez, the co-founder and director of human rights group Tenaganita and a dear name to the thousands of Bangladeshi migrant workers in Malaysia, passed away on Tuesday afternoon.

The outspoken advocate for women, migrant and refugee rights was 72.

Mohammad Harun Al Rashid, a Bangladeshi and former colleague of Fernandez at Tenaganita in Kuala Lumpu, told The Daily Star yesterday that Aegile was his mentor during his years of activism in Malaysia.

"She was a shelter for thousands of migrants, especially Bangladeshis. This is a great loss to the field of migrant rights activism," he said.

M Rayhan Kabir, a Bangladeshi who was detained and deported by Malaysian authorities after he protested the mistreatment of migrant workers in an Al Jazeera documentary during the coronavirus pandemic last year, also mourned her death.

"May your soul rest in peace dear Aegile Fernandez. You have done a lot for the migrants of Bangladesh.

"No one knows how much you have supported me when I was in trouble," he wrote on Facebook.

Aegile is the younger sister of fellow Tenaganita founder Irene Fernandez, who died in 2014. Irene too was a strong advocate for migrant and refugee rights. Irene was awarded the Right Livelihood Award for her outstanding and courageous work to stop violence against women and abuses of migrant and poor workers.

"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," said Aegile's family in a statement, reports Free Malaysia Today.

"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," said her family.

Tributes started pouring in on social media over Fernandez's work.

Klang MP Charles Santiago tweeted: "We have one fewer human rights defender of migrants, women and the poor. 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 to work 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".