Turkey: Arbitrary arrest of human rights defenders Orhan Kemal Cengiz and Sibel Semira Hurtas

Urgent Appeal
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TUR 005 / 0716 / OBS 063
Arbitrary arrest
July 22, 2016

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkey.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a human rights lawyer [1], a journalist who writes on various human rights issues and founding member and former President of the Human Rights Agenda Association (Insan Haklari Gundemi Dernegi - HRAA) [2] , and his wife, Ms. Sibel Semira Hurtas, a journalist specializing in women’s rights and State crimes.

According to the information received, on July 21, 2016, Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz and Ms. Sibel Semira Hurtas were arrested by the police at Istanbul’s Ataturk international airport, before boarding for a plane to London to attend a conference promoted by the the Tahir Elci Foundation and placed in police custody. Ms. Sibel Semira Hurtas was released on the same day but Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz remained detained in Istanbul Security Directorate located on Vatan Avenue. The grounds for his arrest have not been provided. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, he has not had access to his lawyer.

On July 17, 2016, Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz was mentioned on a blacklist of “dissent journalists” to be detained soon, published on the pro-Government Twitter account known as Başkentçi.

The Observatory recalls that the arrests take place against the backdrop of the deteriorating human rights situation in Turkey. Since July 2015, the authorities have launched a massive crackdown on some civil society organisations abusively depicted as “terrorist networks”. The campaign targeted dozens of peaceful activists who have been involved in the monitoring of human rights violations resulting from anti-terrorism operations and who have been advocating for a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue, including NGO members, lawyers, political party representatives and journalists.

Moreover, with the imposition of a State of emergency that followed the failed military coup d’État of July 14, 2016, the Observatory fears that the Turkish authorities will step up restrictions to human rights and fundamental freedoms and repression against dissenting voices, including human rights defenders.

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest of Ms. Sibel Semira Hurtas and Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz, as it seems to only aim at sanctioning their right to freedom of expression and legitimate human rights activities. Accordingly, the Observatory calls upon the Turkish judicial authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz and stop the harassment against him and his wife.

Until Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz is released, the Observatory further urges the Turkish authorities to ensure that his arrest is in compliance with international law standards.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Turkey asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkey;

ii. Release immediately and unconditionally Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz, as it seems to only aim at curtailing his human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz and all human rights defenders in Turkey, so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Articles 1, 6(b)(c) and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Turkey.


· President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Cumhurbaşkanlığı Külliyesi 06560 Beştepe-Ankara, Tel: (+90 312) 525 55 55, Fax: (+90 312) 525 58 31, E-mail: contact@tccb.gov.tr
· Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr. Binali Yıldırım tel: (0312) 422 10 00 ; Fax: +90 (312) 403 62 82
· Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, No: 8 Balgat / Ankara - Turkey 06100; Tel : +90 (312) 292 10 00
· Minister of Justice, Mr. Bekir Bozdağ, 06659 Kizilay, Ankara; Tel: +90 (312) 417 77 70; Fax: +90 (0312) 419 33 70; E-mail: info@adalet.gov.tr
· Minister of Interior, Mr. Süleyman Soylu ; tel: +90 (312) 422 40 00;Fax: +90 (312) 425 61 30;Email: ozelkalem@icisleri.gov.tr
· Ambassador Izzet Selim Yenel, Diplomatic Mission of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels, Avenue des Arts 36-38, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium; Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50
· Ambassador Mehmet Ferden Çarikçi, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28B 1211 Geneva 19, Tel: +41 22 918 50 80; Fax: +41 22 734 08 59; Email: mission.turkey@ties.itu.int

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Turkey in your respective country.

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