Council of Europe Members Issue Declaration Condemning Turkey for Holding American Pastor Hostage

ICC Note:

Twenty-four members of the Council of Europe have signed written declaration number 651, which demands that Turkey release American pastor Andrew Brunson who has been held without due process for over 400 days. The declaration criticizes Turkey for its blatant violation of human rights, citing how the authorities have forced Pastor Brunson to live under inhumane conditions that has caused him to lose over 50 pounds. The declaration calls Turkey’s actions political blackmail, urging Turkey to put an end to this scandalous situation.

 

01/31/2018 Turkey (WND) –   Twenty-four members of the Council of Europe have signed a document demanding Turkey release an American Christian pastor who has been imprisoned without charges for more than a year.

The written declaration calls out Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for using Brunson as “a bargaining chip” with the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan blames for the failed coup attempt in July 2016.

The campaign to obtain freedom for Andrew Brunson, a U.S. citizen who had served as a pastor in Turkey for more than 23 years before his arrest in late 2016, has been fueled by the American Center for Law and Justice.

The organization said that for more than a year it has been “aggressively fighting on behalf of Pastor Andrew and drawing attention to his wrongful imprisonment.”

“We have testified before Congress at a U.S. Helsinki Commission hearing; we’ve brought Pastor Andrew’s case to the attention of President Donald Trump; and now we’ve brought this human rights atrocity to the attention of the Council of Europe.”

ACLJ said its international affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice, submitted a written question to the Council’s Committee of Ministers “with the argument that Turkey is violating its international commitments to respect and apply human rights within its territory.”

The question to the ministers was: “What do you intend to do to ensure that Turkey adheres to its European commitments and obligations. And what can you do to ensure the effective enjoyment of the rights enshrined in the European Convention by Pastor Brunson?”

Eventually, 24 members of the council, from Moldova, Sweden, Ukraine, Romania, Ireland, Armenia, Spain, San Marino, Poland, Serbia, United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Hungary, Netherlands and Croatia, signed a document explaining that Brunson has been held for more than 400 days, “without any reason, and in blatant violation of his rights.”

The ministers’ statement said: “He has lived under inhumane conditions and lost over 50 pounds. While no evidence had ever been set forth to substantiate any crime from him, the Turkish authorities have systematically denied the multiple appeals contesting his detention.”

ACLJ said getting the support of the ministers “is another critical step in our extensive international efforts to help secure the release of Pastor Andrew.”

WND reported in late 2017 that Turkey was not only accusing Brunson of terrorism but also espionage.

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