BOSTON, Mass. – The confiscation of assets belonging to minority communities in Turkey over the past century has long been the subject of countless claims – most of them unsuccessful. However, recent developments in international human rights legislation have facilitated the ability of non-Muslim institutions disposed of property at the end of the Ottoman Empire to prosecute their claims.
Turkish-Armenian counsel Omer Kantik of Istanbul, along with his attorney daughters Destina Kantik and Arda Kantik, is currently involved in over 100 such cases involving the restitution of minority property in Turkey. Some properties have already been recovered.
Kantik and his daughters will share their experiences in representing various Armenian Apostolic, Catholic and Protestant foundations in prosecuting their claims at a program on Sunday, April 3, at 1:30 p.m. at the St. James Armenian Church’s Keljik Hall in Watertown, Massachusetts.
The Kantiks will explain the process whereby Turkey’s status as a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights has led to changes in Turkish law and consequently to the strategic use of litigation to pursue property claims by minorities.
Discussed during the program will be the background to these property claims in the socially, legally and religiously diverse Ottoman Empire and Turkey, the little-known story of the processes involved in securing internal legal reform in Turkey, the ways in which the claims process has affected Armenian, Greek, Chaldean and other communities and the consonance of the process with basic principles of Islamic law.
Destina Kantik, a 2020 graduate of Harvard Law School with degrees from Robert College and Istanbul University Law Faculty summa cum laude, has been instrumental in the planning of the program. She works on minority issues and matters of commercial law and arbitration. Her sister Arda Kantik is a graduate of Lycée du Saint-Joseph and Bilgi University Law Faculty. She joined the law firm in 2020 and works on minority issues.
The Kantiks are in Boston to present a program at Harvard Law School describing their work in prosecuting minority claims in Turkey at a session entitled “The European Court of Human rights and Turkey: A New Era for Minorities.” They are also scheduled to make a presentation on “Restitution of Property in Turkey after 100 Years” at St. Leon Church in Fair Lawn, New Jersey and on Zoom on April 7 at 7:45 p.m.
The Boston program at St. James Armenian Church is sponsored by the Society of Istanbul Armenians-Boston with the cooperation of several other Armenian-American organizations.