Profile of Pakistani Human Rights Activist Ansar Burney and his Achievements

Category: Crime, Justice
Last Updated: 31 Mar 2023
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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. In 1980, Ansar Burney began the "Ansar Burney Welfare Trust", "Prisoners Aid Society", and "Bureau of Missing and Kidnapped Persons" in Karachi, Pakistan.

Ansar Burney is accredited as being the first man to introduce the concept of human rights in Pakistan nearly 30 years ago. He and his organisation (the Ansar Burney Trust) are also accredited for securing the release of around 700,000 innocent prisoners from countries all around the world. One such famous case was that of Mr. Muhammad Akhtar, in which Akhtar's mother was raped before his birth in prison. After Akhtar's birth no one wanted to accept him and he spent 40 years in prison before his release.

Because of his outstanding achievements in the field of human and civil rights, Ansar Burney was the first man to receive the Pakistani National Civil Award Sitara-i-Imtiaz on 23 March 2002. And due to his two decade long international campaign to end child slavery in the Middle East in the form of child camel jockeys, Ansar Burney was declared an 'Anti-Human Trafficking Hero' in the 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report by the US State Department.

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On 16 November 2007, Ansar Burney was sworn in as Pakistan's caretaker Federal Minister for Human Rights. He will be the first man to head the newly established Human Rights ministry of Pakistan. On 27 March 2008, he was elected for a term of three years as one of the 18 members 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". 6] In 2008 he was listed in a poll by The Financial Daily as a favorite personality. Ansar Burney also played an instrumental role in getting the crew of MV Suez free from the captivity of Somali pirates in 2011. Anti-corruption movement On Aug 22, 2011, Ansar Buney announced that following the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations at the end of Ramadan, he would initiate an anti-corruption movement in Pakistan based on the popular movement of Anna Hazare in India. It takes grit, commitment and perseverance to be a man of integrity. To be uman and to act human, to be a person who is able to contribute his share for the cause of humanity and human dignity in letter and spirit, to be a kind soul who feels the pain and unbearably enough to lose control, to be able to help others without any need of worldly glory, to be a person like Ansar Burney. Everything in this universe is for others: the trees, the rivers and all other beauties of seasons and nature. The trees do not eat up their own fruit, the rivers do not drink their own water; and in the same way ‘selfless people’ like Ansar Burney live for others.

Be it the grave issue of ‘underage child camel jockeys’, the ordeal of ‘Zafran Bibi’ who was involved in a case of rape and sentenced to death by stoning, Murder of Pakistanis in Macedonia — in the name of war against terror, human trafficking of young girls for prostitution, slavery or the illegal confinements at Guantanamo Bay; Ansar Burney has always stood as an icon of human rights. International Ambassador for Peace and Human Rights, Mr Ansar Burney, born on August 14th in Karachi, he is son of late Syed Mukhtar Ahmed Burney, and he was the first man to introduce true human rights in Pakistan a couple of decades ago.

A graduate of Masters and Law from Karachi University and honorary recipient of a PhD in Philosophy from Sri Lanka, Mr Ansar Burney, Advocate started his noble mission in 1980 by setting up the “Ansar Burney Trust”, “Prisoners Aid Society” and “Bureau of Missing and Kidnapped Children/Persons” in Karachi, Pakistan. During his education he was a very prominent student leader, and as such, always raised his voice for justice, human dignity and civil rights.

This landed him in a lot of trouble on several occasions with the military government of the time. In 1977, Ansar Burney, then aged 20, was arrested on charges of delivering speeches against martial law and favour of democracy and sentenced for 8 months rigorous imprisonment by the Martial Law Court. Upon release in 1978, the Martial Law Authorities once again arrested him and sent him to Karachi Prison for 2 more months’ detention. In 1979 he was again arrested for the third time and detained for a month.

During these periods of detention in different Pakistani prisons, Mr Ansar Burney witnessed the miserable conditions of prisons and their prisoners. He met many people who were locked up for years and years without ever having committed a crime; forced into detention with false criminal charges. That was the time that he decided to help those in need and in 1980-81 after completing his law degree, Mr Ansar Burney, Advocate, started working on human rights issues such as to bring reforms in prisons and get the release of innocent and illegally confined prisoners.

He also started working against slavery and against human trafficking. The Ansar Burney Trust International was set up as a non-governmental, non-political and non-profitable human and civil rights organisation. Its main objective was to struggle for the release of innocent persons who were kept in prisons or in mental asylums illegally or without any justification, and for justice, peace, anti-human trafficking and to create awareness against human trafficking and HIV.

As a result of his continued and selfless efforts for the past so many years, Mr Ansar Burney has so far been able to secure release of more than 900,000 (Nine hundred thousand) innocent prisoners who were illegally imprisoned in Pakistan and abroad; some released after as much as 50 to 55 years of illegal confinement. Some were even born in prisons and mental asylums where they grew up and lived as prisoners or patients for 35 to 40 long years of their lives; only released and rehabilitated with their families and society because of the hectic efforts of Mr Ansar Burney and the Ansar Burney Trust.

Mr Ansar Burney also met AIDS affected prisoners and noticed homosexuality that was very common in prisons and Mental Assylums for that reason he also started creating awareness against HIV positive (AIDS). He started visiting prisons, Madrasas (Muslims Religious Schools) and prostitutes and started giving them education/lectures and also started working practically to create awareness and also providing them safety/protection against HIV. The Ansar Burney Trust also providing medical help to AIDS prisoners and HIV positive people in Pakistan.

Mr Ansar Burney is also working against female circumcision in African, some Arab and Asian countries and raising his voice to create awareness against female circumcision as its a worst kind of human rights violation against female. The “Ansar Burney Trust” has also arranged release of around almost 20,000 (twenty thousand) persons from mental asylums and mental wards of prisons. These were not mental cases but were kept in these asylums in inhumane conditions by influential persons due to their own vested interests.

Mr Burney has also been successful in tracing out around 300,000 (Three hundred thousand) children through his Bureau of Missing Persons who were safely delivered to their families. These include children who were set free from bounded labour camps, underage child camel jockeys and young girls who had been sold away or trafficked for prostitution. Once established, the Mr Ansar Burney Trust also started their struggle to fight against the inhumane and degrading treatment of women in Pakistan and abroad.

With a purpose to bring those who abused women to justice, Ansar Burney has fought several cases for the cause of women’s rights and one of the success stories has been the closure of several women “mandis” (like animal markets for the sale of girls) in Pakistan. The Ansar Burney Trust’s continued efforts became fruitful when Ansar Burney once again succeeded in getting the release of thousands of slaved underage children from ‘Modern day Slavery’. These children were from the ages of 3 years to 10 years old only.

These underage children as ‘Child Camel Jockeys’ were on slavery in the Middle Eastern countries almost 16 to 17 hours a day and were living in private prisons. During their slavery these underage children were getting just two biscuits a day as food so that they should not gain weight. After the release of these children Mr Ansar Burney sent them back to their respective countries for their rehabilitation. In 2005 The State Department of the United States of America declared and awarded an award of ‘International Human Rights Hero’ to Mr Ansar Burney that was presented to Mr Ansar Burney by the Secretary of State.

Ansar Burney Trust also able to get released trafficked young girls from prostitution in Middle Eastern and European countries. Mr Burney has also sent/taken humanitarian aid to different parts of Pakistan as well abroad. During the drought in Pakistan, Mr Burney personally visited several affected areas and supervised the humanitarian aid operation to the region by the ABT. Mr Ansar Burney stumbled upon the use of Hindu “Haris” (Bonded Labourers) as slaves in the interior Sindh Province of Pakistan.

After some hectic efforts and persistence, the Trust was successful in freeing around 7,000 “Haris”; a 160 of who in danger of being attacked by their previous owners were taken in by the Trust and relocated to a more secure location. Currently, Mr Ansar Burney and the Ansar Burney Trust have been working round the clock to put a stop to the smuggling and trafficking of children and young girls and their use as camel jockeys and prostitution in the Middle East, to date, a 1100 children some as young as 3 years to 12 years of age have been released from camps in the UAE alone.

In 1984, the Chief Martial Law Administrator of Pakistan, General Mohammad Ziaul Haque, twice offered Mr Burney the position of Federal Minister of Pakistan; an offer Mr Burney refused in order to stay impartial and unaffiliated and to continue his human rights work without any political reservations or activities. Since then he has on several occasions been offered ministerial and political positions but he has refused, re-emphasising the Trust’s nature as a truly independent and non-political organisation.

However, he took charge as Federal Minister for Human Rights in the non-political interim set-up in 2007. On November 16, 2007, Ansar Burney was sworn in as Pakistani Federal Minister for Human Rights — to head the newly established Human Rights Ministry of Pakistan, first such ministry in the history of Pakistan. He managed the Human Rights Ministry with a sense of duty and great passion. However, positive attention is not all Mr Burney has received. His work has resulted in the making of many enemies.

He has been attacked several times and continually receives death threats. His name is on the “Terrorist Hit List” which was leaked into newspapers from Pakistani Intelligence Agencies. Ansar Burney Trust offices have been attacked and employees killed. Members of the Burney family have also been attacked and severely injured. Ambulances of the Trust have been fired upon, burnt and stoned by persons against whom Mr Burney has fought human rights cases. The attacks continue to this day.

In relation to his human and civil rights work, Mr Ansar Burney, has attended hundreds of National and International conferences, groups and forums. In recognition of his great human and civil rights work, he has received well over 200 awards and medals from home as well as from abroad. On 23rd March 2002, he was conferred with Pakistan’s National Civil Award “Sitar-i-Imtiaz”, the first national award in the history of Pakistan in the field of human rights. Mr Ansar Burney was declared an ‘Anti-Human Trafficking Hero’ in 2005 “ by the United States, State Department.

Ansar Burney, in March 2008, elected as Expert Adviser on Human Rights in the United Nations Human Rights Council Advisory Committee at Geneva, one out of 18 elected from throughout the world. Whenever a natural calamity such as earthquake or flood hits Pakistan, ‘Ansar Burney Trust’ is there to lend a helping hand. Mr Ansar Burney and his wife Shaheen Burney take pride in helping others. They derive pleasure by sharing smiles and restoring honour and dignity to downtrodden people. Mr Ansar Burney, Advocate got married with Shaheen on May 28, 1981 and they have three children Fahad Burney, Raheel Burney and daughter Sana Burney.

Trust: Established in 1980 by Ansar Burney, Advocate in the Pakistani port city of Karachi; the Ansar Burney Trust was the first organization to introduce true human rights in Pakistan. With a mission to work as a non-political, non-governmental and non-profitable organization, we started our 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 working for the deliverance of justice, better treatment of human beings and for the rights and freedoms of civil liberties. Our work is to raise awareness, provide free legal advice and services and humanitarian assistance where needed. Our mission began with the establishment of the "Prisoners Aid Society" in 1980. Since then we have been involved in bringing reforms in Police Stations, Prisons and Mental Institutions; and work for the aid, advice, release, rehabilitation and welfare of the illegally and unlawfully detained prisoners and mental patients.

We also work 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. Since its inception in 1980, the Ansar Burney Trust has shown a marked and steady progress in achieving the vowed objectives and has started a number of centers for various projects in Pakistan and abroad.

The Trust also publishes newsletters and human rights reports with the purpose of spreading awareness of issues and to try and get more and more people involved. Campaigns: Prisoners released: The Ansar Burney Trust has been working for the cause of justice for the past 25 years and in this time has been successful in getting the release of around 700,000 confined persons from various sites around the world. These have included persons locked up for up to 37 years on fake charges or those confined in mental institutions to rot their entire lives away even though they are perfectly sane.

Our work started in 1980 with this cause of persons confined in prison and mental institutions in Pakistan - a country which since independence in 1947 has yet to have a legal system where justice is delivered to the common man. The courts and police are used as a tool by the influential individuals to remove and put away opponents Torture in custody is extremely common and innocent persons are forced to admit to crimes they never committed. Persons arrested on suspicion of crimes are forgotten in police lock-ups or sent to prison without charge or court hearings for entire lifetimes.

Innocent people are arrested and locked away by the police in order to fulfill their orders of connecting a crime to an individual; in some cases without their families even being informed of their arrest or imprisonment. No legal advice or service is ever provided. Prisons are filthy and hugely over populated. Prisoners are beaten and tortured regularly. There are never enough courts, resulting in waiting times for a hearing taking upwards of several years. Justice in Pakistan is a privilege for the rich.

The situation is even more horrific in Mental Institutions - where just as in prisons - many sane innocent persons are confined and declared insane to keep them quite or lock them away due to enmity with powerful individuals. Mental Patients have never been thought of as human beings by either the government or the people in charge of the institutions. They were often beaten and made to sleep on the ground under the open sky without any clothes or blankets. They were tied to trees or posts so they are unable to run away. They were barely fed, sometimes being forced to feed and live in their own feces.

Women patients were raped on a regular bases, many times giving birth inside the institution to children who were then also raised their; growing up to be mentally instable themselves. Other times - mental patients were tied to poles, trees or posts near religious shrines in the hope they would heal themselves. If they had no where to go, they were stoned to death by mobs unable to understand their condition. There has never been any justice for these people from the courts, which have always worked under the influence and pressure of the governments and the police.

Human Rights were totally unheard of, until 1980, when Ansar Burney founded the Ansar Burney Trust. 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 fake 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. In the past 25 years, the Ansar Burney Trust has made great achievements for this cause.

Through surprise inspections and representatives in prisons and mental institutions, ABT monitors that no prisoner or patient is abused. We 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 is created at various sites around the country when ABT arranges parties and entertainment for prisoners and patients.

Due to our 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 hospital were 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 – drastically leading to a reduction of rapes in prisons. We 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 ABT 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 our achievements over the years has been the collection of data we 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.

Since we began our mission in 1980, the Ansar Burney Trust has been involved in bringing reforms in Police Stations, Prisons and Mental Institutions; and work for the aid, advice, release, rehabilitation and welfare of the illegally and unlawfully detained prisoners and mental patients. We have also worked 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. For hose with no where left to go or those not yet ready, the Trust has established a center where they receive accommodation, food, medical attention and freedom. Children Rights: When a people lack commitment, drive and zeal to better the condition of our fellow human beings, the over riding emotion is that of apathy particularly towards the under privileged. But our ever-enterprising statesmen have found a way: down the line they express "profound grief" and "deep sorrow" alongside heartfelt platitudes for the grieved family. No matter what the tragedy the attitude is that of indifference; even if the subjects are innocent children.

Looking at the statistics, Pakistan has one of the largest populations of the young in the world – with nearly 45 percent of its one hundred and fifty million people being under the age of 15. But it has no policy for children. Hundreds of thousands of infants under four years of age die each year mostly from readily preventative diseases. Amongst the fortunate few who are spared the tragedy, many waste their lives in the throes of extreme poverty. Still worse, an increasing number of children get lost or are abducted; and then there are those whose ntire future is blighted because they are imprisoned, or born in jails and mental asylums and have to spend a considerable time of their lives there. Many a times, this is not due to any fault of their own but because their mothers are patients, are serving a sentence or awaiting trial. Thousands are lost or kidnapped each year, with many finding themselves bought, abused and used in bonded labor camps all over the country. Hundreds are trafficked to foreign destinations for the purposes of drugs smuggling and to be used as camel jockeys.

Many more are forced into beggary, trained and used in criminal activities and some are even killed – for their body organs fetch a high price in Pakistan and abroad. Hundreds of young girls are also abducted, bought and sold all over Pakistan. They are locked away in private prisons, forced into prostitution and trafficked abroad for use in drugs smuggling and for the thriving sex trade (particularly in the Middle East). The Ansar Burney Trust has been working for the protection of these children for over 25 years under our "Bureau of Missing and Kidnapped Children".

In this time, we have managed to locate and rehabilitate around 100,000 children. These included children who were set free from labor camps, those released from prisons, children who had been lost, child camel jockeys and young girls who had been sold away for prostitution. We have brought reforms in prisons, prosecuted those who abused children and recently - the Ansar Burney Trust has also successfully been able to convince the governments of the UAE and Qatar to ban the use of children as camel jockeys. Human trafficking: Human Trafficking is a horrendous crime that has destroyed the lives of millions of people around the world.

It has involved the abduction, cruel and inhumane treatment, humiliation, serious injury and even death of innocent men, women and children. It is a big "business" in many parts of the world, especially South Asia, from where thousands of people are either smuggled or trafficked each year - for purposes of drugs smuggling, to be used for slave labor and young girls and women forced into prostitution. Many are lured with the false promises of a better life, a better future - never expecting what they will actually be put through.

Those unwilling are abducted, young children bought from their parents and young girls bought and sold in markets. The Ansar Burney Trust began its struggle for the release and welfare of many such victims 16 years ago; starting with the plight of women and children used for the purpose of drugs smuggling. Drug Smuggling: Every year, hundreds of women and children are forcibly used for the purpose of drugs smuggling to various destinations around the world. In many of the instances, they are forced to carry the drugs in capsules inside of their bodies.

Abducted or bought from open markets, these women and children are threatened, beaten, starved and even warned with the death of family members if they hesitate in any way. In some instances, young children of the women involved are kept behind with the smugglers to insure full cooperation. The women, along with the kids, are then given new identity cards where they are shown as a family and given bags full of drugs to be transported to various sites across the country. At other times, the women are paired with men and shown in new passports as a married couple and the children are shown as their kids.

They are then forced to swallow and place capsules full of drugs inside their bodies for transportation to foreign countries; where even after full cooperation and delivery of drugs, they are likely to be sold for prostitution and slave labor. Or if caught, they then face prison and even the death sentence. On several occasions, the Ansar Burney Trust has fought for the welfare of such persons; some of whom were released from Middle Eastern countries where they had been sentenced to death for crimes they were forced to commit.

One such case involved children as young as five years old, who were arrested along with some women carrying capsules filled with drugs inside their bodies – all were sentenced to death – finally released after an investigation by the Ansar Burney Trust and appeals to the Saudi leadership. In this regard, members and volunteers of the Ansar Burney Trust visit various prisons and review case details of many South Asian prisoners in Middle Eastern Countries.

In Pakistan, we work to locate and prosecute the men responsible Humanitarian aid and relief activities: Relief Activity Earth Quake in N. Pakistan: During the recent earth quake disaster in Northern Pakistan, the Ansar Burney Trust provided aid worth over $1 million (USD) to the effected people, in the form of warm tents, warm clothes and blankets, food rations and clean drinking water, tools used for digging, medicines, crockery, gas and oil cookers, cash and products for women's personal hygiene.

The Trust is currently working on the construction of homes, mosques and schools for villagers on high mountains Free legal advice: The Ansar Burney Trust since 1980 has been offering free legal advice and services to all those who need it. We have a team of lawyers, including women, who are available 7 days a week to help those in need. It is through our legal team, that the Trust has been able to secure the release of hundreds of thousands of people around the world and to fight for justice for men, women and children

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Profile of Pakistani Human Rights Activist Ansar Burney and his Achievements. (2018, May 12). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/ansar-burney/

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