ISTANBUL — The Nor Zartonk, civil society group representing Turkey’s Armenian community, condemned false reports that the deed for former Armenian orphanage Kamp Armen has been returned to the Gedikpasa Armenian Proestant Church Foundation and called the false reports a ploy for votes in the run-up to Sunday’s election during a press conference held in Istanbul on Thursday morning, Today’s Zaman daily reports.
The current owner of the camp, Fatih Ulusoy, made a statement on 23 May and said he had donated the property to the Gedikpasa Armenian Protestant Church Foundation. However, 10 days have passed since that statement, and the return of the deed has not taken place.
Speaking to Agos, Ulusoy said that they had submitted the official written document regarding the donation, and that the procedures would be carried out at the deed office after the preparation of the letters of attorney, adding, “It should be completed next week”.
“We are in the 30th day of our Kamp Armen resistance, and we wanted to share [our experiences] of these 30 days, for there have been several false reports circulating in the media regarding the camp. […] It’s unfortunate but some of these lies are being produced in an effort to win votes [for the upcoming June 7 general election], and this includes Armenian media outlets. To gain these votes, there are reports being produced stating that the deed to the camp has been returned to the Gedikpasa foundation, but unfortunately, this is not true,” said Sayat Tekir, spokesperson for Nor Zartonk, during Thursday’s meeting.
Paros monthly magazine, an Istanbul-based magazine that focuses on the local Armenian community had published an article about the camp with the headline, “Kamp Armen has been returned to the foundation” on one page and a full page ad for Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy candidate Markar Esayan, who is also a prominent columnist of Armenian descent, on the adjacent page. In addition to falsely stating that the title to the property had been returned to the foundation, the article described Esayan as “the one who has undertaken the coordination for the Armenian orphanage to be returned to the foundation,” portraying Esayan as being at the forefront of the resistance to the demolition.
The members of Nor Zartonk openly criticize Esayan for using the Kamp Armen resistance to promote the AK Party. In addition to the Paros article and Esayan’s statements on Twitter, he also penned a column in the Sabah daily last month entitled “A new formula for the Tuzla Armenian Orphanage” in which he falsely stated, “When the current owner began demolishing the building upon a court order, the government intervened and stopped the demolition process.” In fact, it was former resident of the orphanage Garabet Orunöz who mobilized local Tuzla residents to the site and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Armenian parliamentary candidate Garo Paylan who halted the demolition. In the same column, the parliamentary candidate noted, “Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is personally involved in the case. Also, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas has promised to resolve the problem.”
Kamp Armen Solidarity, who have held vigil at the camp site since the decision was taken for the demolition of the camp, also made a statement regarding the process. The statement underlined that the vigil would continue until the deed was returned to the foundation.