I just left a meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office where I raised the case of American Pastor Andrew Brunson – who is wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey for his Christian faith – among other pressing legal issues to our country.
I told the President about the hundreds of thousands of you who are calling for the release of Pastor Andrew. I respectfully urged him to bring up Pastor Andrew’s case in the President’s planned meeting with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, early next week.
Pastor Andrew has been unjustly imprisoned in Turkey for more than seven months. Pastor Andrew is a United States citizen from North Carolina, who has lived in Turkey for over 23 years, living peacefully as a pastor, humbly serving the people of Turkey.
The ACLJ’s global legal advocacy campaign is vigorously fighting for Pastor Andrew in both the U.S. and the international community, demanding Pastor Andrew’s release from Turkey. We are aggressively advocating for Pastor Andrew on Capitol Hill – working with key Senators, the State Department, and the Vice President. During U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Turkey in March 2017, he raised Pastor Andrew’s case. And in April, Vice President Pence wrote Pastor Andrew’s wife a letter stating, “I can assure you both that the State Department and this White House, under President Trump’s leadership, consider Andrew’s release and reunification with you and your three children extremely important.”
In addition to our meetings with U.S. officials, the ACLJ, through its affiliate in Strasbourg, France, has submitted written and oral statements before the United Nations. In those statements, we requested that the Council respectfully remind “Turkey . . . of its continuing obligations under its constitution as well as the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] and UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights] to respect and value the freedom of religion.” Respecting its obligations would then require Turkey to swiftly release Pastor Andrew and return him safely to his family in the United States. In four days, we are once again submitting a legal filing at the U.N. calling for Pastor Andrew’s freedom.
Turkey has acknowledged Pastor Andrew’s imprisonment and the lack of evidence against him. Yet Pastor Andrew still languishes in his overcrowded prison cell – simply because of his Christian faith.
His wife, kids, and family desperately miss him.
Pastor Andrew’s mom and sister were with us in high-level meetings on Capitol Hill just a few weeks ago – urging key Senators and the State Department to bring Pastor Andrew home. His mom said:
When Andrew was a small child, he had a near death illness. At that time I gave him to the Lord for His purposes. For 23 years, I saw him love and serve the people of Turkey. It was a shock when this peaceful man was accused of being part of an armed terrorist group, an accusation that is clearly nonsense. He has been in prison 7 months, and having visited him there, I have seen the tremendous struggles he is experiencing. I wake every morning with a deep sadness. Yet, because of the huge outpouring prayers by God's people, God has sustained him and I believe he will be delivered. And if not, we know eternity will be worth all temporary suffering, however intense, here on this earth.
This Mother’s Day weekend we’re working around the clock to bring this American son home.
We will not stop working. Join us. Sign our petition for Pastor Andrew’s freedom (below and) at BeHeardProject.com.
UPDATE 05.12.2017: Pastor Brunson’s sister released the following statement today:
Andrew is my older brother. He is the eldest of seven children. In some ways, he is the “stereotypical” oldest child: confident, conscientious, and a high achiever. He loves reading, scuba diving, John Travolta’s acting, and has never met a cherry cheesecake he has not liked. He has always been proud of the fact that he comes from a long line of pastors on the Brunson side.
But what really stands out the most to me about Andrew is his fierce love and loyalty for his family. When each of his three children turned 13 he planned a special trip with each one of them to celebrate the milestone. With Jordan and Blaise he went scuba diving and with Jackie it was a trip to Paris. Grilling out, picnics, swimming, game nights, movie nights…in so many ways the typical American family though living so far away. In some ways, I believe, living in Turkey has made them grow even closer as a family as they have had to rely so heavily on each other and establish their own traditions as they are in the religious minority. One of the hardest things for Andrew during the last 7 months has been wondering when and if he will be able to ever hear his children's voices or hug them again, if he will be able to see them graduate from high school and college, walk Jacqueline down the aisle, or even if and when he will be able to see his wife Norine again.
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