Turkey: Provisional release of Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz and travel ban against him

Urgent Appeal

New information
TUR 006 / 0716 / OBS 063.1
Provisional release /
Restrictions to freedom of movement
July 26, 2016

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

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the provisional release 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]. As a journalist, Orhan Kemal Cengiz published articles on various newspapers including Today’s Zaman, Radikal, Al-Monitor, Ozgur Dusunce and Bugun.

According to the information received, on July 24, 2016, the Prosecutor ordered the provisional release of Orhan Kemal Cengizand issued a travel ban against him, pending the end of the investigation.

During his interrogation, the Prosecutor informed Orhan Kemal Cengiz that he was investigated within the framework of a criminal case regardingMuhammed Fethullah Gülen’s alleged terrorist organisation. Orhan Kemal Cengizwas questioned about a few tweets posted on his Twitter account.

The Observatory welcomes the release of Orhan Kemal Cengiz but deplores his continuing judicial harassment, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities.

Until all charges are dropped, the Observatory calls upon the Turkish authorities to cancel the travel ban and ensure that any judicial proceeding against him are carried out in full compliance with his right to a fair trial, as protected under international law.

Background information:

Since July 2015, the Turkish 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.

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.

On July 21, 2016, Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz and his wife, Ms. Sibel Semira Hurtas [3], 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 Tahir Elci Foundation and placed in police custody. Sibel Semira Hurtas was released on the same day, while Orhan Kemal Cengiz was detained in Istanbul Security Directorate located on Vatan Avenue.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Turkey asking them to:

i. Drop all the charges against Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz, and ensure that any judicial proceedings against him are carried out in full compliance with the defendant’s right to a fair trial, as protected under international law;

ii. Put an end to the travel ban imposed against Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz;

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

iv. 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;

v. 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;

vi. 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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