EDREMIT (A.W.)—A Turkish government-appointed trustee of Van’s Edremit Municipality has built toilets in a historic Armenian cemetery in the vicinity of a new public beach, reports indicate.
Turkey-based T24 news reported that the bones from the cemetery were scattered after a public beach was installed on the site. The site at which historic artifacts dating to 3000 B.C. have been found, according to the report, is said to be damaged by the new construction. A total of 24 graves were discovered in the area once heavily settled by Armenians.
The beach was opened on July 23 by Van trustee Murat Zorluoğlu and Edremit Municipality trustee Atıf Çiçekli, who were both appointed by government as part of an ongoing crackdown against Kurdish politicians.
Edremit is a district of Van Province of Turkey and is situated on the coast of the Lake Van, 18 kilometers (approx. 11 miles) from the city of Van. The current name of Edremit originates from Armenian name of Artamet, which literally means “Near the Fields” in Armenian, as it lies near the fields of grape and apple trees at the coastline of Lake Van.
Artamet was founded as a small town at the shores of Lake Van in Tosp district of Vaspurakan province, in the middle of Historic Armenia. Throughout history, the city has had various names: Artemida, Zard, Artashessyan, Avan, Artavanyan, and Edremit. In the 10th century, Artamet was known as a feudal city with a population of 12,000. It was renowned for growing the best apples in Armenia.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Artamet boasted approximately 500 households, 435 of which were Armenian. After the first Hamidian Massacres of 1894–1896, the Turkish population grew and Turks soon outnumbered the Armenians.
Prior of the Armenian Genocide, Artamet had 10 Armenian churches and a Greek church. Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, and other local Christians were almost entirely killed or driven out between 1915 and 1923. After their legal owners were massacred, thousands of historical monuments were annihilated as well.
In recent months, Turkey has stepped up political pressure on Kurdish politicians. The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has appointed trustees who are loyal to him to head dozens of municipalities after Turkish authorities arrested at least 74 co-mayors and 12 Parliament deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) over the past year.