Today we submitted a formal written statement to the United Nations (U.N.) Human Rights Council on behalf of American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who is currently unjustly imprisoned in Turkey because of his Christian faith. Pastor Andrew is a U.S. citizen from North Carolina, and has peacefully served the people of Turkey as a pastor for over 23 years.
As we’ve explained before, all that changed last fall when, “following a failed military coup, Turkey began a crackdown that has disappointingly swept up innocent religious minorities – especially Christians – in an ever-widening dragnet.” Pastor Andrew was unfortunately caught up in that dragnet, and for over seven months now he has been imprisoned in an overcrowded cell with only vague information provided as to the charges against him.
Last week, ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow met with President Trump in the Oval Office. During that meeting, he raised Pastor Andrew’s case – seeking his release – and President Trump committed to working toward his release. This meeting with President Trump and our submission to the U.N. are strategically timed, as Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, will be in Washington, D.C. and meeting with President Trump tomorrow.
As we have repeatedly pointed out, Turkey has acknowledged that there is a lack of evidence against Pastor Andrew. Yet, he remains imprisoned with no progress made in his case. Now is the time for his release.
In our written submission to the U.N., we stated:
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 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. Therefore, these violations concern not only Turkey, but every Member State and every agency of the U.N.
We respectfully asked the U.N. to remind Turkey “of its continuing obligations under its constitution as well as the ICCPR and UDHR to respect and value the freedom of religion,” and to “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.”
Our demand of the U.N. and President Erdoğan is the same – ensure Pastor Andrew’s safe return home to the United States and to his family.
President Trump now knows that hundreds of thousands of you are also calling for Pastor Andrew’s release. Hopefully tomorrow President Erdoğan will know the same.
Make sure your voice is heard by signing our petition for Pastor Andrew’s freedom.
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