HRC 39th Session, ITEM 3 Clustered ID with WG on enforced disappearance and WG on arbitrary detention
12 September 2018
The ECLJ would like to direct this Council’s attention to the plight of Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, an innocent United States citizen, who has been unjustly detained in Turkey for nearly two years.
Pastor Andrew peacefully lived out his religious beliefs in service to the people of Turkey for over two decades before being arrested and imprisoned on the grounds of ridiculous and baseless charges. Pastor Brunson’s ongoing trial in Turkey began on 16 April 2018. It is evident that this is a sham trial, and, as indicated by President Erdoğan’s multiple demands to swap Pastor Brunson for Fethullah Gülen, Pastor Brunson is undoubtedly a political prisoner being held as a bargaining chip for Turkey. Furthermore, although Turkey repeatedly tries to claim that Pastor Brunson’s release must come through the courts, its own Executive Order 694 says differently. It states that, upon the request of the Foreign Minister with the recommendation of the Justice Minister and approval of the President, a prisoner may be returned to his home country.
As stated by Pastor Andrew himself: “I have become a political bargaining chip—a hostage to use against the United States in negotiations. Let it be clear, I am in prison not for anything I have done wrong, but because of who I am — a Christian pastor.”
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. Therefore, these violations concern not only Turkey, but every Member State and every agency of the U.N. Turkey has violated all of these protections by arresting and detaining an innocent pastor in prison nearly two years based on the hearsay testimony of secret witnesses.
The ECLJ, and nearly 600,000 people world-wide who have signed a petition in support of Pastor Andrew’s release, respectfully request this Council to remind Turkey of its authority under Executive Order 694, as well as its continuing obligations under the law, and to further make any and all efforts to secure Pastor Andrew’s release and safe return to the United States.