Ansar Burney born 14 August 1956 in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan is a leading Pakistani human rights and civil rights activist. He is a graduate of Masters and Law from Karachi University and honorary recipient of a PhD. in Philosophy. He is widely accredited as being the first man to introduce the concept of human rights in Pakistan nearly 30 years ago.
Ansar Burney, Advocate (Chairman and Founder Ansar Burney Trust) Born August 14th 1956 in Karachi Pakistan, Syed Ansar Ahmed Burney, son of Syed Mukhtar Ahmed Burney, was the man to introduce true human rights in Pakistan over 25 years ago.
A graduate of Master’s and Law from Karachi University and honorary recipient of a PhD. in Philosophy.
Ansar Burney got married with Shaheen on May 28, 1981 and they have three children – Fahad, Raheel and daughter Sana.Upon release in 1978, the Martial Law Authorities once again arrested Ansar Burney and sentenced him to prison for 2 further months of detention and in 1979, Burney was again arrested for a third time and detained for a month.
During the periods of his detention in different prisons in Pakistan, Ansar Burney witnessed firsthand the miserable conditions of prisons and met countless prisoners whom were imprisoned without crime or charge; some in detention for over 40 years without ever appearing in court.
It was then upon his release and completion of his law degree that Ansar Burney set up the ‘Prisoners Aid Society’ and the ‘Bureau of Missing and Kidnapped Children’ in Karachi (Pakistan in 1980; and eventually formed the Ansar Burney Trust International with offices in Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar, Mirpur, Quetta, Washington D.C. and London.
The Ansar Burney Trust is a non-governmental, non-political and non-profitable organisation which initially worked for the welfare of prisoners, reforms in prisons and mental asylums and to trace missing and kidnapped children; however then widened its scope to cover all areas of human rights and worked against human trafficking.
Ansar Burney Welfare Trust
Ansar Burney, Advocate started his noble mission in 1980 by setting up the “Ansar Burney Welfare Trust”, “Prisoners Aid Society” and “Bureau of Missing and Kidnapped Persons” in Karachi Pakistan.
Voice of justice
A vocal and prominent student leader in the 1970s, Ansar Burney was always known as one to raise his voice for justice, freedom of speech and for human and civil rights during the time of Martial Law in Pakistan. As such, he landed himself in trouble on many occasions with the military government.
Prison 1977 & 1979 for voice for democracy
In 1977 at the age of 20, Ansar Burney was arrested on charges of delivering speeches against Martial Law in Pakistan and without a fair trial he was sentenced to 8 months rigorous imprisonment.Upon his release, he was again arrested by the Martial Law Authorities who sent him to Karachi Prison for a further 2 months detention. In 1979, he was again arrested for the third time and detained for a month.
At all three times, Ansar Burney was imprisoned for raising his voice for democracy and against the terrible injustices being committed by the then military government.
Prisoners Aid Society
During this time of detention in different prisons, Ansar Burney witnessed first hand the miserable conditions of Pakistani prisons and the barbaric treatments inflicted on prisoners. He met many innocent people who had been locked up for several years without ever committing a crime or even facing trial.That was the time that he decided to help those in need; and after completing his law degree in 1980, Ansar Burney established the “Prisoners Aid Society” with the purpose of bringing reforms in prisons and to get the release of all innocent and illegally confined prisoners.
Release of prisoners
As a result of his continued and selfless work, Ansar Burney has so far been able to secure release of around 700,000 prisoners from countries all around the world. These have included persons locked up on false charges, those released from private and illegal prisons, illegal immigrants and those who were released from slave labor camps; some released after as many as 55 years of illegal confinement.
With the passing of time, Ansar Burney led the Trust into becoming a true human rights organisation working for justice without discrimination and against all forms of human and civil rights repressions and violations.
Working at the forefront, Ansar Burney has fearlessly led legal missions, humanitarian relief teams and fought for the rights of the innocents in many parts of the world; facing yet more imprisonment in Bosnia and various attacks on his life.
Authority on human rights in Pakistan
Ansar Burney, founder and chairman of Ansar Burney Trust, is an authority on human rights in Pakistan and the Middle East. He has hosted and attended hundreds of National and International conferences, groups and forums and has received over 200 awards and medals from home and abroad.
On the 23rd March 2002, he was conferred Pakistan’s National Civil Award “Sitar-e-Imtiaz”, the first in the history of Pakistan in the field of human rights.
Chairman: Ansar Burney Trust International
Established in 1980, initially as the ‘Prisoners Aid Society’ and the ‘Bureau of Missing and Kidnapped Children’ by Ansar Burney, Advocate in the Pakistani port city of Karachi; the Ansar Burney Trust International (as it is known now) was the first Pakistani organization to fight for the concept of human rights in Pakistan.
With a mission to work as a non-political, non-governmental and non-profitable organization, it started its fight against all forms of injustices, cruel inhuman and degrading treatment, child abuse, cruelty to women and other more subtle forms of human and civil rights violations without any discrimination or affiliation.
The Ansar Burney Trust headed by Mr. Ansar Burney is a network of human rights organisations and volunteers working for the deliverance of justice, better treatment of human beings and for the rights and freedoms of civil liberties. It works to raise awareness, provide free legal advice and services and humanitarian assistance where needed.
Since its inception in 1980, it has been involved in bringing reforms in Police Stations, Prisons and Mental Institutions; and worked for the aid, advice, release, rehabilitation and welfare of the illegally and unlawfully detained prisoners and mental patients.
It also works for the rehabilitation and welfare of the families of these unfortunate human beings purely on humanitarian grounds in the greater interest of justice and humanity without any affiliation or consideration for any political party, group or activities.
Federal Minister for Human Rights (Pakistan)
On 16 November 2007, Ansar Burney was sworn in as Pakistan’s caretaker Federal Minister for Human Rights. He was the first man to head the newly established Human Rights ministry of Pakistan and was placed in charge of establishing the ministry, creation of a national commission on human rights and oversight of general elections in Pakistan.
During his term as a Federal Minister, Ansar Burney visited 25 prisons and mental asylums throughout Pakistan, resulting in the release of several hundred innocent persons including children as young as 7. He also strived for further prison reforms and reforms to government controlled orphanages and shelter homes for women.
Expert Advisor to the United Nations Human Rights Council
On 27 March 2008, Ansar Burney was elected for a term of three years as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council Advisory Committee and due to “his recognized experience in the field of human rights and acknowledged competence and impartiality, Burney received wide support from all regional groups of the Council”.
Prison reforms and prisoner rights
As Chairman of the Ansar Burney Trust International, Ansar Burney has been working for the cause of justice for over three decades and in this time has been successful in securing the release of around 700,000 confined persons from various sites around the world. As such, he is perhaps best known for his work for the release of illegally or wrongfully confined persons.
These have included persons locked up for up for over 45 years on false charges or those confined in mental institutions to rot their entire lives away even though they are perfectly sane.
Having been locked away in prison himself, Ansar Burney witnessed the miserable conditions in which prisoners were living and set about immediately to help them. He began by visiting the many prisons and mental institutions in Pakistan to find persons confined on false charges, locked away without charge or persons who had been framed. He also began to raise his voice for reforms in Prisons and Mental Institutions; and as a result, he has made great progress over the last three decades.
Through surprise inspections and representatives in prisons and mental institutions, Ansar Burney Trust monitors that no prisoner or patient is abused. They have successfully lobbied for better living conditions and food, separate prisons for men and women, education and training for prisoners, put a stop of tying of mental patients and children in chains and have successfully managed to remove place of birth as prison for children born in prisons.
Entertainment and a better atmosphere are created at various sites around the country when Ansar Burney Trust arranges parties and entertainment for prisoners and patients. Due to their lobbying and donations, better medical equipment and staff are now working in prisons and institutions – offering better medical service to prisoners and especially patients. Mental patients locked in prison due of lack of space in hospitals are sent back for better care. Women prisoners and patients who would before have given birth in confinement with only each other to help are now under the supervision of women nurses – after Ansar Burney presented this matter to the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Staff of the Ansar Burney Trust visited and met female prisoners and patients to investigate charges of sexual abuse – leading to a reduction of rapes in prisons. They successfully lobbied to ban female prisoners being dealt with by male staff.
Non Muslim prisoners unable to perform their religious duties are now provided what they need in order to perform their religious commitments. In the month of Ramadan, non-Muslim prisoners are now arranged food for by Ansar Burney Trust so they were not forced to fast.
The Ansar Burney Trust has appointed 84 people in various jails and mental asylums to take care of mental patients and prisoners.
One of their achievements over the years has been the collection of data they have gathered on Pakistani prisoners confined in different Jails around the world due to various misunderstandings. The Trust provides legal advice and services to many such persons and arranges for their repatriation when released.
Similarly the Trust has also been able to get release of a number of foreign nationals from Pakistani Jails and sent them to their respective home countries on Trust’s expenses.
Ansar Burney has been involved in the release of thousands of prisoners from prisons across the world. The following are a fraction of the most prominent cases he had been involved in during his initial years as the head of the Prisoners Aid Society.
1985 – Syed Muzaffar Ali Shah
Syed Muzaffar Ali Shah was arrested under the Lunacy Act 37 years earlier when he had visited a police station to lodge a burglary report. He was kept in detention for 37 years without ever being charged or presented before a court. He was finally released after efforts of the Prisoners Aid Society.
1987 – Mehar Din
Arrested by police at the age of 20 on charges of murder because he had the same name as the person they were looking for, Meher Din spent the next four years behind bars until he was acquitted. Sadly however, rather than being released, he was re-arrested on another murder charge and spent the next 17 years behind bars without ever being produced in front of a court. He was eventually transferred to the mental asylum within the prison walls and had no contact with his family for 21 years. He was released after he was discovered by Ansar Burney of the Prisoners Aid Society.
1987 – Mukhtar
Mukhtar, was arrested in an attempt to murder case in 1952 in Kohat and was sentenced to seven years hard labour. After a year and a half in the D. I. Khan Jail, he was sent to the Peshawar Jail, where he remained for the next 18 years without any charge or crime. Finally, when someone noticed his continued incarceration, he was released in 1970 but was arrested in Karachi again where he remained till 1987 until he was discovered by Ansar Burney who took his matter to the Sindh High Court and he was finally released. Mukhtar had spent a total of 35 years in jail.
1988 – Mohammed Akhtar
Ansar Burney Pictures