ISTANBUL — The Directorate General of Foundations rented the historical Sanasaryan Han in Istanbul’s Eminönü neighborhood through a tender, despite a legal struggle by Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

The tender for renting the historical building, organized by the Directorate General of Foundations on July 18, was won by Özgeylani Construction Company, despite the ongoing trial over the ownership of the building.

Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate claims that the han, which was donated to the patriarchate in 1881 by a Russian-Armenian Mgrdich Sanasaryan, belongs to them as they have the documents to prove the donation. The Directorate General of Foundations, on the other hand, claims that the building did not fall under the jurisdiction of a law on the return of properties to community foundations that took effect in 2011 as it had been owned by a person.

Sahin Gezer of Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate Real Estate Commission told the Hürriyet Daily News that they had hoped until the last minute that the tender would be halted. Gezer said they would continue their legal action.

The Sanasaryan Han had an autonomous status when compared to the other Armenian foundations, Gezer said, adding that this was due to the fact that other foundations had churches and schools, whereas the han had been donated to the patriarchate by a natural person.

Gezer said that the rent of the han should be equally distributed between Armenian schools and public schools without any discrimination, while adding that this was as an offer to the Directorate General of Foundations “as we are equal citizens.”

Commenting on the resolution on foundations, which entered into force two years ago, Gezer said more than 400 properties were returned but major problems were being faced. “For example, the returned space is accepted as a green area or is closed for housing, so even if it is returned you cannot use it,” said Gezer.

The han, after being donated to Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate in 1881, was confiscated by the then government in 1935. The historical building became famous for torture during the time the building was used as the Police Department. The han also served as a courthouse for a while.

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