ISTANBUL (Agos)—Despite promises made by the Turkish government and the Tuzla municipality in Istanbul, the deed to Kamp Armen has not yet been returned to the Armenian community of Turkey. Fifty two days have passed since the resistance began at Kamp Armen on May 6, after bulldozers entered the camp to demolish the historic site.
The resistance at Kamp Armen began when plans were revealed to demolish the camp for the construction of luxury apartments. In a statement made on May 23 following weeks of protest and occupation of the camp site, Fatih Ulusoy, the current owner of the property, announced his intention to donate the camp to the Gedikpasa Armenian Protestant Church. Ulusoy then submitted a document declaring the donation to the Church Foundation. The official deed to the property, however, has yet to be registered with the Tuzla municipal government and remains under Ulusoy’s ownership.
Meetings between protest organizers and the Tuzla Municipality continued last week with no clear explanation as to where and why the process to return the camp had reached a deadlock. Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbas reportedly attended recent meetings.
Sides taking part in meetings stated only that the process might be accelerated in the coming week.
Kamp Armen Solidarity and Nor Zartonk, the main organizers of the protest movement, held a press conference last Friday, criticizing the failure to return the camp to the Armenian community of Turkey.
A statement released by Kamp Armen Solidarity and Nor Zartonk read: “Since the injustice was caused by the State, it needs to be solved by the State. That is why we are not part of the commission for negotiations. The State is trying to hide behind the property owner in developing a solution. The owner initially said he had paid for the property, and he could sell it back to the Armenian community; but then, and these are his own words, he declared he would donate the property upon the requests of other actors in the process, including the Prime Minister. How did this change take place? We do not know the link between the two because the process is not transparent.”
Kamp Armen Solidarity and Nor Zartonk held a second rally in support of the camp’s return on Friday, June 26 in Istanbul’s Tunel Square. Protesters held signs and banners that read “Enough with Delaying Tactics—Return Kamp Armen to the Armenian People”. Protesters also expressed solidarity with the No To Plunder movement currently taking place in Yerevan. A rally was also held in Ankara on Friday.