Pastor Andrew Brunson imprisoned as Turkish President Erdoğan postures to re-establish the Ottoman glory


The ACLJ offers a petition

Along with a statement on the case, the American Center for Law and Justice has started a petition to the Turkish government.

“A Christian pastor in Turkey has been arrested. He is in great danger.

American Pastor Andrew Brunson – a U.S. citizen from North Carolina – has been falsely charged with ‘membership in an armed terrorist organization.’ The charging documents state no ‘evidence has[] been gathered’ against him. He has been a Christian pastor in Turkey for the past 23 years.

Pastor Andrew has been transferred from a detention facility to prison. During his 63-day detainment, he was denied access to his Turkish attorney.

Turkey – our NATO ally – has begun increased crackdowns on Christians. If convicted, Pastor Andrew could face years in prison based on extremely serious – and false – charges.

At the ACLJ, we’re representing the family, mobilizing our international resources – including our offices in the region – demanding Pastor Andrew’s freedom. Take action with us before it’s too late.”

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Presbyterian Pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife Norine.

Fox Station WGHP reports on efforts to free pastor from Turkish prison

A 5 February 2017 article by the Chapel Hill, North Carolina Fox affiliate mentioned the ongoing plight of Pastor Andrew Brunson.

“A North Carolina Presbyterian pastor has been held in a Turkish prison for almost four months now, according to WTVD.

Pastor Andrew Brunson is being accused of ‘membership in an armed terrorist organization.’ His family says he’s being persecuted for his Christian belief.

‘Honestly it’s been a nightmare that I did not think would still be going on,’ his daughter Jacqueline Brunson said. ‘I mean he’s an American citizen. It’s kind of outrageous to think that this is happening to an American citizen.’

Andrew Brunson and his family are from Black Mountain, in western N.C., and his daughter Jacqueline is a student at UNC Chapel Hill. The pastor has dedicated 23 years to Christian missionary work in Turkey — building churches and spreading the gospel — until he applied for residency and was arrested.

When asked if her father might be involved in any terroristic activity, Jacqueline Brunson said ‘not at all, definitely not.’

‘There’s nothing that they can look at that has any ties to membership and any terrorist organization. He’s the pastor of a church,’ said executive counsel Cece Heil.

Both North Carolina senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, said they’re aware of the situation and working to get answers.”

(Read more at MyFox8)

The Washington Times points to the “abnormality” of this case

In a 16 January 2017 article titled Turkey’s wavering support for religious freedom, the Washington Times suggests that the case of Andrew Brunson is uncharacteristic of modern-day Turkey, but leaves us wondering at what nation the act of imprisoning dozens of Americans (some for the crime of having a dollar or the crime of escaping from al Qaeda) would find characteristic.

“Turkey faces real challenges and bears a huge burden. But fear of these threats shouldn’t drive their nation away from core values of justice, religious freedom and due process. In contradiction to all of those values, it appears Turkey wavered on its constitutional commitment with the imprisonment of American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been held in prison without clear cause since early October.

Mr. Brunson is a pastor of a small church on the west coast of Turkey. After living peacefully in Izmir for more than 20 years, he was imprisoned based on unsubstantiated allegations of ties to the Gulen movement, a group that many blame for the coup attempt in July. The local prosecutor has yet to produce compelling evidence against Pastor Brunson. I met with the Ministry of Justice in Ankara to discuss Pastor Brunson’s case, but the situation remains bleak.

Turkey is a nation that has generally welcomed freedom of conscience and liberty for different faith traditions. Monday was National Religious Freedom Day here in America. We are grateful to enjoy this value as a constitutional right for all people. But religious freedom is more than just an American right; it is a basic human right that should be embraced around the world.

According to the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, 5 billion people around the world face religious persecution, and one-third live in places where religious freedom is severely restricted. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2016 report claims that numerous countries, including China, Burma, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, among others, continue to imprison, torture and persecute religious minority communities, including Jews, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists.

Turkey should consider carefully how it handles the case of Pastor Brunson. America cares deeply about how our people are treated across the world, and we are watching closely. Aside from the personal struggle for Pastor Brunson and his family, America sees this as both a matter of religious freedom and safety for its citizens. If this is how Turkey treats an American like Andrew Brunson, other Americans will hesitate before taking their business to Turkey.

In 2015, the Senate passed a Trade Promotion Authority amendment that requires the executive branch to take religious freedom conditions into account whenever negotiating trade agreements with other nations. As it stands, because of recent imprisonments of over two-dozen Americans over the past seven months, I cannot support Turkey’s involvement in a future European trade deal. …

In light of references by President Erdoğan to returning Turkey to a pre-Ataturk glory, the assumption by the Washington Times that religious freedom is “generally welcomed” might be assuming too much.  If Erdoğan does succeed in ramrodding his agenda to erase the Ataturk era, Turkey will have no religion but Islam and there will be little room for dissent. Just ask the Armenians.

Armenian Christians are driven from their homes
Starving Armenian children are teased.
Armenians killed by raids of the Hamidiye corps of the Ottoman army.

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