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Orhan Kemal Cengiz

UN Watch, a Geneva based non-governmental human rights group, welcomed Turkey’s release Monday of human rights advocate and journalist Orhan Kemal Cengiz after four days of detention. The group but urged UN chief Ban Ki-moon and human rights commissioner Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein to condemn the government of President Recep Teyyip Erodgan for imposing a travel ban on Cengiz.

Cengiz was kept in the Anti-Terror Bureau (TEM) on Vatan Street for four days. He said that he didn’t face any ill-treatment except for being handcuffed from behind, but he saw people whose eyes were swollen shut in the packed custodial prison.

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“We call on the UN Human Rights Council to exercise its duty and immediately convene an urgent session into the alarming deterioration of the rule of law in Turkey, and to create a commission of inquiry to investigate both the attempted coup and the government’s illegal purge of tens of thousands of Turkish citizens from their jobs,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

Cengiz and his wife Sibel Hurtas, also a journalist, were detained Thursday at Istanbul airport on their way to attend a conference in London. Hurtas was released on the same day she had been arrested, but Cengiz was detained until Monday.

Cengiz had visited the UN Human Rights Council in February, hosted by the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, a coalition of 25 human rights groups led by UN Watch, and testified about abuses in Turkey.

Since his arrest, UN Watch was campaigning for Cengiz’s release.

“By arresting a prominent journalist, lawyer and human rights defender, the Turkish government has seriously compromised its claim to be defending democracy and the rule of law,” Neuer said.

“We urge Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner Zeid to condemn the illegal ban on Mr. Cengiz’s travel, which among other things would prevent him from visiting the United Nations to provide the world body with vital new information and analysis on the desperate situation of human rights in Turkey,” Neuer noted.

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