ISTANBUL (Hurriyet Daily News)—The Human Rights Association (IHD), a non-governmental organization that seeks to advance human rights issues in Turkey, has brought the case of Camp Armen to the agenda of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, a member of the IHD’s central executive board, lawyer Eren Keskin, along with other members of the association, said that separate letters had been sent to the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks and European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey Kati Piri, to draw attention to the Camp Armen issue.
“In the letter, we said it was a heavy human rights violation that Camp Armen’s certificate of ownership had not been returned to the Armenian community and that Turkey was not fulfilling the European Union criteria it had vowed to reach,” said Keskin.
Efforts to demolish the orphanage—where thousands of Armenian orphans, including slain journalist Hrant Dink, had grown up—began on May 6, drawing widespread attention once news broke on social media. The demolition was halted when activists and leading figures from the Armenian community rushed to the area to protest the destruction.
The protesters, who had held a vigil for 19 days, vowed on May 27 that they would continue camping in the area until the deed to the property is given to the Armenian community. The occupation of Camp Armen by activists entered its fifty-sixth day on Tuesday.
Keskin claimed that Turkey was breaching the European Convention on Human Rights, which as an international agreement holds higher validity than national laws. He added that Turkey was also violating the Treaty of Lausanne, in which the rights of Turkey’s minorities were outlined.
Pastor Krikor Agabaloglu of the Gedikpasa Armenian Protestant Church said they planned to rebuild the demolished structures as soon as they receive the license.
“The orphanage cannot be used at the moment. But we plan to demolish it and rebuild it in the same way. [When it reopens] it will not host only Armenian children, its doors will be open to children from all nations,” Agabaloglu told Hurriyet on May 27.
Fatih Ulusoy, the owner of the property, promised to return the deed to the Gedikpasa Armenian Protestant Church on May 24. The deed has yet to be handed over to Armenian leaders.