Demolition at Camp Armen stopped

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Yesterday, Turkish bulldozers attempted to raze Camp Armen in Istanbul, a camp attended by thousands of Armenian children, including slain Armenian journalist Hrant Dink and his wife Rakel.

According to the newspaper Agos, in the early hours yesterday morning, construction machinery entered the camp (located in the Tuzla neighborhood of Istanbul) and demolished part of a building. People flooded to the site and succeeded in stopping the demolition attempt.

“The machinery has been withdrawn, but we’re still waiting here,” said Garo Paylan, an Armenian candidate for Parliament running with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), speaking at the scene yesterday afternoon. “Until the state returns everything it has seized, we’re calling for a vigil.”

The Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church Foundation founded the camp in 1962 on land purchased by Sait Durmaz. The camp was designed to produce a space for Armenian children’s education in Anatolia, where after the 1915 genocide Armenian culture was under attack. More than 1,500 children attended the camp through the years, including Hrant Dink and his wife Rakel. Although the land was fully paid for, the state seized the land in 1979 on the grounds of changes in law related to foundations. There has been a long legal battle for the site, as well as a recent campaign to stop the planned demolition.