ISTANBUL–Camp Armen, the former Armenian summer camp located in the Tuzla district of Istanbul, was returned to the Gedikpasha Armenian Protestant Church Foundation on Oct. 27. The Foundation’s lawyer, Sebu Aslangil announced that the return process was finalized, reported Agos. The return of the camp came after 175 days of resistance by the Nor Zartonk Armenian movement of Istanbul.
On the 17th day of resistance, Camp Armen was returned to the Gedikpasha Armenian Protestant Church Foundation (Photo: “Kamp Armen Ermeni Halkına İade Edilsin” Facebook page)
Nor Zartonk led a campaign to occupy the grounds of the camp since bulldozers arrived to demolish it in early May. After weeks of protest, the owner of the campground, Fatih Ulusoy, said he would sign the transfer of the property over to the Gedikpaşa Armenian Evangelical Church Foundation.
“On the 175th day of resistance, Camp Armen was returned to the Armenian people. Our thanks to all of you,” said Nor Zartonk activist Sayat Tekir in a video message posted on the Camp Armen Facebook page. The group also posted videos of activists celebrating the return of the deed. The videos showed activists congratulating one another, and line dancing in celebration.
In early June, Nor Zartonk activist Sayat Tekir said that negotiations were ongoing between the government and Ulusoy to agree on a price for the “donation” by the owner to the Gedikpaşa Foundation. Tekir said the Turkish government was in favor of resolving the issue outside of the courts, as a trial would set a precedent for other confiscated properties.
In June, in an interview with the Armenian Weekly, Tekir explained the significance of Camp Armen, noting that the confiscation of the camp was in essence an assault on the Armenian identity. “Taking these properties from us also means taking our identity from us. It’s not a small matter—it’s not only an issue of property, but also identity,” he said.
On November 8, Tekir will be a special guest of the Armenian Youth Federation at an event to discuss this and other important developments in Turkey. He will travel to Detroit where he will receive Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region’s (ANCA-ER) activism award on behalf of the Nor Zartonk movement, at the 9th annual ANCA-ER Banquet.