ISTANBUL (A.W.)–The Nor Zartonk Armenian youth movement of Istanbul held a solidarity demonstration in Istanbul on May 22 that called on authorities to stop the demolition of Camp Armen and urged the return of the confiscated property to the Armenian community.
Over 1,000 demonstrators gathered at the Beyoğlu Tünel Square on Istiklal Street to voice their concern over the fate of the historic Armenian camp, including Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) municipal candidate Murad Mıhçı.
Demonstrators held signs in Turkish that read, “Give Camp Armen back to the Foundation” and “Camp Armen belongs to Armenians.”
A statement released by Nor Zartonk, which was read at the demonstration, said that the group will continue their protest actions until the camp’s deed is transferred to the Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church Foundation. “This is not just a building; it is a historic struggle for justice,” read Sayat Tekir, a member of the Nor Zartonk movement, adding, “our resistance will continue until Camp Armen’s deed is returned to the [Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church] Foundation.”
The camp had been marked for demolition to make room for luxury residential buildings. Yet, soon after the demolition began on May 6, work was halted when concerned citizens intervened. Protesters have since held a live-in demonstration at Camp Armen, which as of this writing is in its 17th day.
On May 20, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) started an action alert calling on the public to urge Congress to support swift U.S. action against Turkey’s destruction of Camp Armen.
The state seized the camp from the Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church Foundation in 1987, after the Turkish Court of Cassation approved a decree by the local court. The state later gave the land to a previous owner on the basis of a 1936 declaration.
The camp was once home to around 1,500 children, including the late Hrant Dink, his wife Rakel, and Parliamentarian Erol Dora. It had been left abandoned for years following its seizure.
Unfortunately the real estate driven economy in Turkey and a ruling party that has staked its existence to ever more building and constructing and feeding its supporters to win one more election has delivered a terrible destruction to the fabric of Turkish cities. This incredibly valuable and historic place is no different.
It has nothing to do with USA or any other country. It is between Bolsahays and local authorities. I don’t understand the logic here. Any interference can do more harm than good. ANCA needs to think more deeply before acting.