ACLJ to UN: American Pastor Andrew Brunson is Not a “Bargaining Chip”
Pastor Andrew Brunson is a U.S. citizen who has been falsely imprisoned in Turkey for over a year. As we recently reported, his case “is gaining the attention of world leaders.”
Yesterday, through our European affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) we submitted our second written statement to the Human Rights Council, urging the
Council to call upon Turkey to honour its obligations. The ECLJ further requests that the U.N. make every effort to ensure that Pastor Brunson is not only treated with great care, but that he is quickly released and allowed to return home to the United States without injury or delay.
In our statement, we reminded the Council that, “[o]ne of the principle aims of the United Nations (U.N.), as expressed in the preamble of the 1945 United Nations Charter, is ‘to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights [and] in the dignity and worth of the human person’,” and the Council must hold “member states accountable for those significant violations of human dignity that run contrary to this aim.”
We also reminded the Council:
As a founding Member State of the U.N., Turkey is obligated to adhere to norms set forth in the U.N. Charter, such as those requiring members ‘[t]o achieve international cooperation . . . in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and . . . fundamental freedoms . . . without distinction as to [inter alia] religion’. Pastor Brunson’s detention appears to be related to his work as a Christian minister. By detaining and imprisoning Pastor Brunson because of his religious expression, peaceful association, and assembly of religious believers, Turkey is violating not only its obligations under the U.N. Charter, but its own Constitution, as well as Pastor Brunson’s fundamental rights: freedom of religion and belief, freedom of expression, freedoms of peaceful assembly and association.
Thus, “these violations concern not only Turkey, but every Member State and every agency of the U.N.”
As you will recall, Pastor Andrew had peacefully, and without incident, served the people of Turkey as a pastor for over 23 years when he was summoned to a Turkish police station, and then detained and arrested. He has been accused of crimes he did not commit, and no evidence whatsoever has been produced by the Turkish government to justify this detention or support any of the allegations against him. He has been denied access to his legal file, and has no ability to prepare a defense.
Pastor Andrew’s case is gravely concerning, as it appears, “as indicated by President Erdoğan’s recent demand to swap Pastor Brunson for Fethullah Gülen, [that] Pastor Brunson has become a political prisoner and bargaining chip for Turkey.” This is why it is so important that world leaders are aware of and addressing Pastor Andrew’s case. And that is why we will vigorously continue our advocacy on Pastor Andrew’s behalf until Turkey adheres to its obligations, and Pastor Andrew is safely returned home.
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