Camp Armen Returned to Armenian Community

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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. According to Agos, the foundation’s lawyer, Sebu Aslangil, announced that the return process had been finalized. The return of the camp came after 175 days of resistance by the “Nor Zartonk” Armenian movement of Istanbul.

On the 175th day of resistance, Camp Armen was returned to the Gedikpasha Armenian Protestant Church Foundation (Photo: ‘Kamp Armen Ermeni Halkina Iade Edilsin’ Facebook page)

Nor Zartonk had 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 Gedikpasha 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, congratulating one another and line-dancing in celebration.

Reacting to the news, ARF Bureau member and scholar Khatchig Mouradian told the Armenian Weekly, “A new chapter opens today in the decades-old story of this phenomenal site. May we write it with the same dedication that the indomitable Hrant Guzelian demonstrated over decades, and Nor Zartonk exhibited in recent months.” Guzelian, who was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, founded Camp Armen, as well as the Youth Home of Istanbul, in the basement of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Gedikpasha, and dedicated his life to rescuing Islamized Armenian youth living in Western Armenia.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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 Gedikpasha 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 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 Nov. 12, Tekir is scheduled to give a talk titled, “A New Awakening: Armenian Advocacy and Activism in Istanbul,” in Boston, at the First Armenian Church of Belmont, Mass. The event—co-hosted by  the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts, the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Greater Boston “Nejdeh” chapter, Bostonbul, and the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR)—will start at 7:30 p.m. The First Armenian Church is located at 380 Concord Ave. in Belmont. For more information, click here. Tekir will then travel to Detroit, where he will receive the 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. For more information, click here.

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Camp Armen Returned to Armenian Community