Patriarchate applies for return of ‘dark’ building
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Built in 1895, Sansaryan Han was refashioned into the Istanbul Police Headquarters in 1944 and eventually gained notoriety as a bastion of ill-treatment by the police. Many people, including a number of prominent poets and writers,such as Nazın Hikmet and Sabahattin Ali were tortured there. The building serves a s a courthouse today. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜRELThe Turkish-Armenian Patriarchate has filed a lawsuit in an unprecedented move to retrieve a historical Armenian building in Istanbul, the Sansaryan Han, despite the fact the building had not been registered on the 1936 declaration.
“Newly passed foundation laws gave us the opportunity to file this suit. The Patriarchate knew it owned the foundation. All that remained was to officially declare this,” Simon İş, the lawyer representing the Patriarchate in court, told the Hürriyet Daily News.
The court ruled to impose an interim injunction on the building located in Istanbul’s Eminönü district. Among the foundation properties owned by the shopping center is the Sansaryan School in the northeastern province of Erzurum, where Turkey’s founder Atatürk had assembled the Erzurum Congress of 1919.
“We are awaiting the return of the building, and we remain hopeful,” said İş, although he chose not to comment on whether another initiative might be undertaken to retrieve the building in Erzurum as well.
The Turkish government enacted a measure effective Aug. 27, 2011, to return properties seized from minority foundations through a proclamation that was declared in 1936. Minority groups gave the government a proclamation in 1936 detailing their realty properties. Over the years, however, these properties were not registered under the minority foundations’ names and some were even sold to third parties.
“The Turkish-Armenian Patriarchate filed a suit in 1930 and received confirmation that the Sansaryan Foundation belonged to them. Later, however, the foundation unlawfully slid out of the Patriarchate’s control. It was first used as the Istanbul Police Headquarters and then the Istanbul Commercial Court until this year,” İş said.
Sansaryan Han was refashioned into the Istanbul Police Headquarters in 1944 and eventually gained notoriety as a bastion of ill-treatment by the police, as many people, including a number of prominent poets and writers, were tortured there.
It took years of painstaking research to attain the documents presented to court, İş said.
İş said they had conducted research in the Turkish Land Registry Directorate (TKM) for a long time and translated the documents in question from Ottoman to contemporary Turkish. The conclusions emanating from this research confirm the claims raised by the Patriarchate, he said.
“We presented to [judicial authorities] historical documents, as well as documents pertaining to the court that ruled in favor of the Patriarchate in 1930, along with all these other files,” İş said, adding that the court’s decision to impose an interim injunction over the building was appropriate.