Following a speech by journalist Mustafa Akyol at the award ceremony on Saturday, Professor Ergun Özbudun, the previous recipient of the award, presented it to Cengiz.
The Ankara-based LDT was informally founded on Dec. 26, 1992, by conservative intellectuals and gained official status as an association under Turkish law on April 1, 1994. Each year, it gives its Freedom Honor Award to a person who has contributed to freedoms in the country.
Cengiz was given with the award because he has been fighting violations of the rights of individuals from all segments of society; he acted as a bridge between Turkey and the rest of the world and is one of the few heroes of the country, the press release from LDT said. Cengiz manages to always describe the dangers, threats, problems with mentality and shortcomings as well as positive developments made with regards to the state structure in a comprehensive, constructive and commonsensical way, the statement further read.
As a lawyer, Cengiz has worked for a long time as a consultant for the Protestants living in Turkey and was lawyer to the families of the victims of the Malatya massacre, in which three Christian missionaries were brutally killed in Malatya in 2007. An English report titled “Ergenekon is our reality,” prepared by Cengiz with journalist Berat Özipek, is a reliable, well-balanced resource for understanding the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials, the statement added.
Ergenekon is a clandestine criminal network accused of working to overthrow the government. Sledgehammer is a suspected coup plot believed to have been devised in 2003 with the aim of unseating the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government through violent acts.
Cengiz is founding member and general secretary of the Civil Society Development Center. He writes regularly for the Today’s Zaman, the Radikal daily and al-Monitor.