Meltem Özgenç - Hürriyet / Istanbul, May 28 () - An Armenian foundation plans to demolish and rebuild Kamp Armen, an Armenian orphanage in the Tuzla district of Istanbul, after a controversial demolition plan was shelved, as the land owner said he would donate it to the Armenian community.
Pastor Krikor Ağabaloğlu of the Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church said they plan to rebuild the buildings as soon as they receive the license.
“The orphanage cannot be used now. But we plan to demolish it and rebuilt it the same. This time, it will not host only Armenian children but its doors will be open to children from all nations” Ağabaloğlu told daily Hürriyet on May 27.
Fatih Ulusoy, the camp’s land owner, reportedly said on May 24 that he would donate Kamp Armen, where slain journalist Hrant Dink and thousands of Armenian orphans had grown up, to the Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church and School.
“The lawyers are in contact. I hope we will take the orphanage in a short time,” he had said, adding that many people had voiced their support against the demolition of Kamp Armen.
“We want to rebuild it for the peace, love and those people who supported it and we want to host both Armenian children as well as children from all nations here” said Ağabaloğlu.
Efforts to demolish Kamp Armen began May 6 and received widespread attention once the news broke out on social media. Later in the day, the demolition was stopped when many people, including activists and leading figures from the Armenian community, rushed to the area to protest the demolition work.
The protesters, who had held vigil for 19 days, said on May 27 that they will resume camping in the area until the day the license for the buildings is given to the foundation.
The Turkish state expropriated the camp in 1987, following the 1980 military coup, based on a 1936 bill preventing minority foundations from acquiring property.
Although the Turkish government signed a historic decree in 2011 to return property taken away from minority foundations, the camp was left out, alongside hundreds of other properties.