Oral statement to be delivered to the 34th regular session of the Human Rights Council, 10 March 2017.
The European Centre for Law and Justice would like to draw the Council’s attention to Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American citizen, who is currently imprisoned in Turkey since 7 October 2016, despite having committed no crime.
Since the failed military coup, Christians and other religious minorities are now increasingly the targets of detention and deportation, and are unreasonably subjected to other governmental regulation simply because of their faith.
For 23 years, Pastor Brunson has worked openly on behalf of the people of Izmir as a pastor. He was summoned to report with his passport to a local police station to be arrested and later told that he was considered a ‘national security risk’. He was soon transferred to a Detention Centre and held for 63 days, despite no evidence having been presented to justify the accusations against him. On 9 December, Pastor Brunson was taken to court and falsely charged with ‘membership in an armed terrorist organization’.
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 and the European Convention on Human Rights, but its own Constitution as well as Pastor Brunson’s fundamental rights.
The ECLJ urges this 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 without injury or delay.