Armenian School Seized in Istanbul

ISTANBUL (ANN/Groong)–Some 45 children of Bomonti Armenian Elementary School were evicted in the middle of winter school season. The owner of the building Miltas Inc.–went ahead with property seizure proceedings–alleging that the school was not able to pay its rent. Schoolchildren will hold their classes in the school yard because all the contents of the building were piled up in the school yard–reported the Hurriyet newspaper.

Following the school holiday and only three days before the start of second semester–the 45 students of Bomonti Armenian Elementary School were going through an ordeal they will never forget. They rushed to the school building as soon as they learned the news of the seizure.

They witnessed their desks–school equipment–even the blackboards scattered all over the school yard. "Where are we going to read now" they said–with tears in their eyes.

The building at 45 Izzetpasa Street had been purchased by Mekhitarian Armenian Catholic School and Monastery Foundation–from E.T.Ayasli in the 1958 for the sum of 710000 lira. After the transfer of ownership and acquiring the deed of sale–the Foundation transferred the school from its old place which dated back to 1808–and since 1963 has been occupying the seized property.

Then in 1980–the inspectors of government’s "Foundations Department" informed the Mekhitarian Foundation that they were not the rightful owners of the building.

The foundation was informed that "Since 1936–minorities in Turkey no longer had the right to purchase property in the name of their foundations–therefore the deed of ownership was no longer valid."

This sparked lengthy and complicated legal proceedings.

School principal Mary Degirmencioglu summed up the situation by saying–"We became the tenants of a building which we once owned. And now–even that is being taken away from us."

Armenian institutions in Turkey have long been a target of government crackdows and Turkish laws governing minorities have often been cited as reasons.

Translated by Vartan. Simonian.

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