FREE ANDREW Brunson– who is currently being held in a Turkish jail
Christian pastor Andrew Brunson (above left) has lived and worked in Turkey for the past 23 years and, with his wife Norine (above right – looking at the detention centre where her husband has been held), has helped in the ministry of the Izmir Resurrection Church on the west coast. As a couple they have a deep love for, and commitment to, the Turkish people.
Andrew was cautiously optimistic when Turkey’s Interior Ministry summoned him on October 7, 2016. Both he and his wife had been praying for a long time that they would be granted permanent resident status by the Turkish authorities. The summons, however, was not their expected answer to prayer; instead they were arrested and detained.
Although Norine was released after two weeks, Andrew was held in Harmandali Immigration Detention facility for a further two months, including two days in solitary confinement. On December 8, last year, he was transferred to a counterterror centre, brought before a judge the following day, charged and then imprisoned on the grounds of being linked to a terrorist organisation. The charge was based on the testimony of a ‘secret informant’. He was then taken to Izmir’s Sakran 3 Nolu T Tipi Prison.
In the past four years, at least 100 pastors serving in Turkey have been forced to leave due to government refusal to renew visas or other permits, according to Turkey’s Association for Protestant Churches. Turkey has accused a number of pastors of being ‘a threat to national security’. Recently Ryan Keating, a ministry leader and doctoral student living in Turkey with his family for a decade, was deported and banned from the country for life. With Andrew’s arrest and imprisonment, however, the Government appears to be using the current political situation in Turkey as an opportunity to try to impede the growth of Christianity and Christian churches in Turkey. Andrew’s case would seem to be part of a growing climate of intolerance against Christians and other minority faiths in Turkey.
In Andrew’s case the charge against him infers that he has ties to the Gulen movement, whose followers are blamed by the Turkish Government for attempting a coup on July 15. Since the failed coup, Turkey has gone after several groups in an attempt to prosecute the Gulen movement. Release partner, Middle East Concern (MEC), recently reported that more than 40,000 people, including opposition party politicians, military personnel, journalists and teachers had been arrested since July 2016.
On December 29, an appeal for Andrew’s release filed by his lawyer was rejected, but a further appeal can be made to a higher court.
Recently Andrew was allowed a family visit. Whereas the Turkish prisoners are allowed family visits once a week, Andrew’s family must apply to the Ministry of Justice for each individual visit. However, Andrew has now been allowed a New Testament; in the immigration facility he had been denied access to a Bible.
In support of Andrew and Norine, Release is asking Christians in the UK and Ireland to pray for his freedom and to write cards and letters on his behalf.
- That God will strengthen, encourage and protect Andrew during his imprisonment
- That the accusations against Andrew will be clearly repudiated and that he will be released
- That the family visits and telephone calls will not be obstructed
- That Andrew’s co-prisoners will be open to the Gospel
- Christians in Turkey will not be discouraged by these events but remain faithful
Please write to Turkey’s Minister of Interior, H.E. Süleyman Soylu, using the following address:
Sayın Bakan Süleyman Soylu
Türkiye Cumhuriyeti İçişleri Bakanlığı