Istanbul Armenian orphanage volunteers attacked
Aziz Özen – ISTANBUL
DHA photoTwo volunteers standing guard to prevent the demolition of an Armenian orphanage publicly known as “Kamp Armen” have been attacked by unidentified men on the 100th day of the peaceful protest in Istanbul’s Tuzla district.
“After days of harassment, on Thursday Aug. 13, 2015, on the 100th day of the Kamp Armen Resistance, a fascist attack was staged against Kamp Armen at about 11:30 p.m.,” civil society organization Nor Zartonk said in a statement after the attack.
The pair, Ensari Taşkaya and another who was not identified, were slightly injured after being punched and hit with sticks by eight or nine unknown assailants.
The group approached the volunteers in the evening, asking where the camp was. When the pair asked the reason for their inquiry, the group allegedly began attacking Taşkaya and his friend, throwing punches and striking them with sticks.
“When we said ‘why are you asking’ they started attacking us. The reason they attacked us probably is the sit-in we have been holding for Kamp Armen,” Taşkaya said.
“We declare to the public that this group, displaying a genocidal mentality, will not succeed in breaking our resistance with these attacks and that we will continue the Kamp Armen Resistance with the same determination,” Nor Zartonk said, calling for renewed support from the public.
Kamp Armen was built in 1962 by the Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church, as the former building was no longer able to host the innumerable Armenian orphans arriving from various parts of Anatolia. Among the children who grew up in the orphanage were Hrant Dink, an Armenian journalist murdered in 2007, his wife, Rakel Dink, and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Erol Dora.
Efforts to demolish Kamp Armen began on May 6 and drew stern criticism once the news broke out on social media. Later in the day, the demolition was stopped when a large number of people, including activists, enviromentalists, representatives of several rights groups and leading figures from Turkey’s Armenian community, rushed to the area to stop demolition of the decades-old legacy.
The land is to be returned to the Armenian community, but activists have criticized the slow pace of the transfer, prompting continued night watches to prevent development on the property.