Abraham cosponsors bill to sanction Turkey unless it releases Pastor Andrew Brunson
WASHINGTON - Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D, R-Alto, is an original cosponsor on a bill to sanction Turkey unless its government releases Pastor Andrew Brunson and other American citizens.
HR 6633, the Turkey International Financial Institutions Act, was introduced last week by Congressman Mark Walker, R-NC. The bill directs U.S. representatives at international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, International Finance Corporation and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), to oppose loans to Turkey, pending the release of U.S. citizens and consular staff.
The bill is in response to Turkey’s wrongful imprisonment of North Carolina pastor Andrew Brunson, who has served in Turkey for 23 years as a missionary. He has been held captive by the Turkish government for nearly two years where he has reportedly been subjected to deplorable conditions and denied legal counsel.
Turkey is also suspected of human rights abuses and politically motivated arrests and detention of thousands, including members of parliament and employees of the U.S. Mission to Turkey.
“Too many Christian missionaries face persecution world-wide for practicing their faith, and the U.S. must defend them when we can. It’s time for President Erdogan to release Pastor Brunson and any Americans he’s holding and allow them to come home, or his nation should face the consequences. Turkey was the largest borrower of the EBRD, and these sanctions will hit them where they hurt. These economic sanctions can be easily avoided if Turkey simply does the right thing and let these people come home,” Dr. Abraham said.
Brunson, the pastor of Izmir Diriliş (Resurrection) Church in Izmir, Turkey, was detained on Oct. 7, 2016 on charges of "support of a terrorist organization" and "political or military espionage." Brunson was transferred on July 25 from jail to house arrest while awaiting the next hearing on his case in October. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom reports that Brunson is being held on secret evidence, kept in deplorable, over-crowded prison conditions, and denied legal representation.
Dr. Abraham has long been an advocate for Brunson. Shortly after his arrest in 2016, Dr. Abraham authored a letter to then-Sec. of State John Kerry asking for the State Department to ensure Brunson was treated fairly and humanely.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both signaled support for sanctions against Turkey if its government continues to hold Brunson.
“The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being. He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!” President Trump tweeted on July 26.
HR 6633 is the House companion to legislation by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Bob Menendez, D-NJ, that passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 26.
In addition to Walker and Dr. Abraham, other origninal cosponsors include: Robert Aderholdt (R-Ala.), Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), Dave Brat (R-Va.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Mike Johnson (R-La.), Steve King (R-Iowa), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), Randy Weber (R-Texas), and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.).
The full text of the legislation can be read here.