Ansar Ahmed Burney
Born August 14th 1956 in Karachi Pakistan, Syed
Ansar Ahmed Burney, son of Syed Mukhtar Ahmed Burney, was the
first man to introduce true human rights in Pakistan over 24 years
A graduate of Master's and Law from Karachi University
and honorary recipient of a PhD. in Philosophy from Sri Lanka,
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.
During his education he was a very prominent student leader.
And as such, always raised his voice for justice, human 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 sentenced for 8 months rigorous imprisonment.
Upon release in 1978, he was again arrested by the Martial Law
Authorities who 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,
Ansar Burney witnessed the miserable conditions of prisons and
their prisoners. He met many people who were locked up for 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, Ansar Burney, Advocate
started working on his project to bring reforms in prisons and
get the release of innocent and illegally confined prisoners.
The Ansar Burney Welfare Trust was set up as a non-governmental,
non-political and non-profitable human and civil rights organization.
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.
As a result of his continued and selfless efforts for the past
24 years, Mr. Ansar Burney has so far been able to secure release
of more than 600,000 (Six 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 Ansar Burney and
The "Ansar Burney Welfare Trust" has also arranged
release of around 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 100,000
(one 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 labor camps, child camel
jockeys and young girls who had been sold away for prostitution.
Once established, Ansar Burney and the ABWTI 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” (markets)
Mr. Burney has also sent/taken humanitarian aid to different
parts of Pakistan as well as Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan,
Bangladesh, Bosnia and Kosovo. During the recent drought in Pakistan,
Mr. Burney personally visited several affected areas and supervised
the humanitarian aid operation to the region by the ABWTI.
In this process, 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 2,000 “Haris”;
a 100 of whom in danger of being attacked by their previous owners
were taken in by the Trust and relocated to a more secure location.
Currently, Ansar Burney and the ABWTI have been working around
the clock to put a stop to the smuggling of children and their
use as camel jockeys in the Middle East. To date, a 100 children
some as young as 4 have been released from camps in the UAE.
The Trust, led by its chairman Ansar Burney, has been involved
in many other human rights issues. For more information contact
the trust, or visit the campaigns section.
In 1984, Mr. Burney was twice offered by the Chief Martial Law
Administrator of Pakistan, General Mohammed Zia-ul-Haque 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 has refused, re-emphasizing the Trust’s
nature as a truly independent and non-political organization.
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. ABWTI 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, Ansar Burney,
Advocate 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 Pakistan’s National
Civil Award "Sitar-i-Imtiaz", the first in the history
of Pakistan in the field of human rights.
Mr. Ansar Burney, Advocate got married with Shaheen on May 28,
Source: Burney Welfare Trust