America ups the ante over Pastor Brunson’s detention

America ups the ante over Pastor Brunson’s detention
The American Charge d’Affaires in Ankara has said that Turkey’s continued detention of pastor Andrew Brunson on spying and terrorism-related charges is impeding US-Turkish relations. Philip Kosnett said there is a “strong sense of unity in Congress between Republicans and Democrats” on the need for Brunson to be released and . . . Read More

Syria: Christians and Yazidis among 250,000 displaced in Afrin

Turkish-backed Syrian rebels walk past a burning shop in Afrin on 18 March. (Photo: BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
Significant numbers of Christians and Yazidis have fled their homes in northern Syria’s Afrin enclave, World Magazine reports, ever since Islamist militants joined with the Turkish military this past January to oust Syrian Kurdish fighters from the region along Turkey’s border. Turkey considers the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) to . . . Read More

Turkey returns confiscated Syriac church property deeds

Turkey returns confiscated Syriac church property deeds
Syriac Orthodox Christians have welcomed the Turkish government’s return of 55 title deeds, representing nearly half of their ancient church properties in southeast Turkey, which had been confiscated by the state in recent years. Fifty of the official property deeds were delivered to the Syriacs’ 4th century Mor Gabriel Monastery . . . Read More

Brunson’s lawyer: secret witness practice ‘absolutely outlandish’

Lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt speaking with journalists at the entrance to the Sakran Prison complex on 7 May, 2018.
At the close of Turkey’s second trial hearing against US pastor Andrew Brunson, his lawyer has sharply protested the Izmir court’s reliance on secret prosecution witnesses against his client. Jailed for the past 19 months, the 50-year-old Evangelical Presbyterian minister was sent back to his cell in a maximum-security prison . . . Read More

Brunson’s trial highlights Turkey’s ‘hostage diplomacy’ tactic

Brunson’s trial highlights Turkey’s ‘hostage diplomacy’ tactic
On the eve of jailed US pastor Andrew Brunson’s second court hearing in Turkey, growing international comment has focused on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s transparent “hostage diplomacy” tactic, one of several issues seriously souring his nation’s relations with the United States. The upcoming 7 May hearing near Turkey’s third-largest . . . Read More

Five years on, hope remains for missing Syrian bishops

Syrian Bishop Boulos Yaziji, head of the Greek Orthodox church in Aleppo, together with his counterpart from the Syriac Orthodox Church in Aleppo, has been missing since 22 April 2013. (Photo: LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Five years since the disappearance of two Syrian bishops, the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Beirut says “all available evidence and indications encourage continued optimism” that they may yet be alive and one day released. However, its statement added that “all the efforts that have been made to obtain even a . . . Read More

On trial for terrorism and espionage in a Turkish court

On trial for terrorism and espionage in a Turkish court
Just one prisoner, slightly built, came through a side door, escorted on either side by armed gendarmerie soldiers, walking him past rows and rows of empty seats. Dressed in a dark suit and white shirt, he glanced up at the impressive state-of-the-art courtroom, built to accommodate 650 people. Its walls . . . Read More

North Korea, China, Russia and Iran ‘forces of instability’

Tibetan Buddhists as well as Uyghur Muslims are among the minority groups that Chinese authorities are clamping down on. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
The US State Department has called North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran “forces of instability” in its latest set of country reports on human rights, saying they “violate the human rights of those within their borders on a daily basis”. The 2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, published on . . . Read More

Erdogan demands Gulen extradition for US pastor’s release

Erdogan demands Gulen extradition for US pastor’s release
Responding over the weekend to public pressure from both US President Donald Trump and 66 members of the US Senate, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan repeated his demand that US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen must be extradited back to Turkey if Washington expects Ankara to release jailed US pastor Andrew . . . Read More