The trial of pastor Brunson in Turkish courts is over, and he has been sentenced to three years, one month and 15 days in prison for “promoting terrorism,” and aiding and abetting terrorist organizations acting against Turkey. Although everyone’s attention is on the fact that Brunson was released and returned to his country, with them thinking that this was thanks to the pressure by Trump or the U.S., nobody recognizes one fact: A U.S. citizen who has been the source of pride for everyone in official circles in the country, including the U.S. president himself, and who has been known as “a religious, innocent, patriot Christian citizen” is now labeled by Turkish courts as a “terrorist.” A Turkish court charged the U.S. which has always been talking big when it comes to the “fight against terrorism” over “promoting terrorism.”
Although I don’t make early assumptions on this case -or any other case which hasn’t been concluded yet- I can say this much about the claims that this decision was reached as a result of the pressures from Trump: Brunson may have been released a long time ago if it weren’t for those pressures. Because the accusations against him which were accepted and proven by the court are nothing more than that. Also, not all of the accusations were proven, and some witnesses changed their testimonies.
Whether in Turkey or somewhere else, it is something one can encounter very often where the gap between the accusations made in the indictment bill and obiter dictum and what was proven by the court can be huge.
Eventually, if you consider the issue in detail, Turkish courts decided how clean the U.S.’s innocent son really was. The courts found him guilty, convicted him and sent him back home. Furthermore, the U.S. thanked Turkey which sent him with this label. You can interpret this in any way you like, I don’t mind. But to be frank, I would only be proud of my country for this; I am very much pleased.
The rest is about how Trump is going to deal with this before his public opinion. He may also look at the issue in any way he likes, he may present this as a major victory. What else do you expect him to do? Do you expect Trump, who is going to be running an election soon, to present this as a fiasco? Of course, he will state that he emerged better off from this. What kind of a mentality would try to interpret this issue through his words?
Just the fact that Trump felt the need to present this as a victory helps us to see and say many things on Turkey’s capability in managing this crisis and the increasing initiative of Turkey in its bilateral relationship with the U.S.
However, we need to do more.
I want to remind Trump, who is so keen on the freedom, the rights and honor of his citizens all over the world, to do something about the over 20 U.S. citizens who are being held in Egyptian prisons at this moment. Moreover, these U.S. citizens are not able to benefit from any of the international legal agreements, including criminal procedure laws, unlike the ones in Turkey. They are being tortured and are living under harsh conditions, resembling the dungeons of the medieval age. Hundreds of thousands of people are arrested arbitrarily and most of them are getting sick under these inhumane conditions, with a few of them dying every weak just because they are not able to get any treatment.
The only reason for these people’s death is these prisons and actually, there is no valid reason to keep them there. The coup plotters gathered all the oppositional figures and put them in these dungeons and they have been keeping these people in detention under inhuman conditions for over five years. The conditions are nothing like the conditions of prisons in Turkey. They can neither talk to their lawyers nor can they get any medical treatment. Among them there are the elderly, women, the sick and U.S. citizens. Nevertheless, no statements have been made about these U.S. citizens by Trump or any other U.S. authority. Are Trump and the U.S. government discriminating among their citizens? Or is this about the difference between their perceptions of Turkey and Egypt? I want to ask whether they are not powerful enough to go against Egypt, but I know it’s enough to make a cat laugh.
Or is the sensitivity of the U.S. regarding its own citizens just a myth? Is this myth only true in the special case of Brunson? According to the Human Rights Watch report, for instance, On January 8, Egyptian authorities forcibly disappeared and arrested an Egyptian-American limousine driver who was visiting his country. In the following weeks, the Egyptian authorities “beat him up very badly, they shocked him in his genitals and raped him at least twice, once with a stick and in another instance by another man.”
Well, President Trump, yes this has been done to an American citizen in Egypt. The New York Times mentions another case:
Moustafa Kassem’s story who is another U.S. citizen. He is being held in a prison under terrible conditions, and although none of the accusations against him could be proven, he was convicted just because he attended protests against the coup. He has already started a hunger strike against the conditions he is living in and the 15 years sentence handed down to him after a hasty trial. Moustafa Kassem is not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was coincidentally a few kilometers away from the Rabaa square when the Rabaa massacre was carried out.
His story is very long and has multiple dimensions that need to be analyzed. We will come back to that if we have time. But, we shall finish for now by asking the question of why the sensitivity shown in Brunson’s case as a U.S. citizen is not shown to other 20 or more U.S. citizens?