BY “PRISONERS AID SOCIETY”
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
those 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.