The United Nations is being warned that Turkey is violating international law in its prosecution of an American Christian pastor who has served a community of Christians in the Muslim nation for many years.
The case against Andrew Brunson is based on “utter sham” charges, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, which is drawing attention to Brunson’s plight.
The ALCJ now has delivered to the United Nations Human Rights Council a legal submission that points out Turkey’s offenses.
The nation, under the direction of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has made no secret of his hopes for a Muslim caliphate with Turkey at its center, arrested Brunson more than a year ago and held him for months without any charges.
Finally, when a court hearing was held, he was accused of working with Erdogan’s political opponents, and the judges “basically barred any witnesses for Pastor Andrew’s defense.”
“These actions violate Articles 9 (right to liberty and security of person), 14 (equality before the courts and tribunals), and 18 (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion), of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Turkey is a signatory, as well as Articles 7 (equality before the law and equal protection of the law), 9 (no arbitrary arrest or detention), 10 (fair and public hearing), and 11 (presumed innocent until proved guilty) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and Article 5 (right to liberty and security of person & lawfulness of detention), and 6 (adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR),” the ACLJ told the U.N.
“Additionally, Articles 10 and 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey protect the rights of everyone to equality before the law ‘without distinction as to . . . political opinion, philosophical belief, religion and sect,’ as do Articles 2 and 7 of the UDHR and Article 18 of the ICCPR. These rights include the freedom, ‘either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching’. Article 5 of the ECHR guarantees that no one shall be arbitrarily ‘deprived of his liberty.’ Article 36 of Turkey’s Constitution also protects the right to litigation ‘before the courts through lawful means and procedure.’
“Turkey has violated all of these protections by arresting and detaining an innocent pastor in prison for over a year and a half based on the hearsay testimony of secret witnesses. Moreover, Turkey has denied Pastor Brunson the opportunity to mount an adequate defense by flippantly dismissing all defense witness testimony,” the ACLJ told the U.N.
“Pastor Andrew is innocent. He has cooperated with authorities over the past 19 months despite the ongoing violations of his human rights. No real evidence has been presented against him. Turkey is holding him as a political pawn. Their game must end NOW,” the group said.
The group summarized the history of the case: “For 23 years, Pastor Brunson worked openly in Izmir, Turkey, serving as the pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church, within a small Protestant Christian community. On 7 October 2016, Pastor Brunson received a written summons to report with his passport to a local police station. Believing the summons was related to his routine renewal of his residence visa, Pastor Brunson promptly reported to the Izmir police only to be arrested, and later told that he was to be deported as a ‘national security risk.’ However, Pastor Brunson was never deported, he was instead transferred to the Harmandali Detention Centre and held for 63 days. During this time, he was denied access to an attorney and repeated requests by U.S. officials to visit Pastor Brunson were ignored, raising serious concerns.”
Later he was moved to a prison allegedly suspected of “membership in an armed terrorist organization,” even though there was no evidence.
No indictment came until March 2018, and its 62 pages were “wholly lacking in merit” and provided “no evidence.”
At a “trial” in April, prosecution witnesses were secret, with appearances and voices disguised.
WND reported earlier in Brunson’s case that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom blasted Turkey’s handling of the case.
“The judge’s decision at the conclusion of today’s hearing to dismiss all of the witnesses called by Pastor Brunson’s defense without listening to a single minute of their testimony is simply unconscionable,” said Sandra Jolly, the vice chair of the USCRIF, at the time of the hearing.
Jolly attended the hearing in a Turkish courtroom for Brunson and saw nearly 11 hours of proceedings. Brunson’s next hearing is July 18.
“We leave the courthouse with serious concerns. Today’s 11 hours of proceedings were dominated by wild conspiracies, tortured logic, and secret witnesses, but no real evidence to speak of. Upon these rests a man’s life,” said Jolley.
WND reported in April the U.S. Congress is considering sanctioning Turkey if Brunson is not released.