Armenian orphanage to be rebuilt in October

Armenian orphanage to be rebuilt in October

Armenian orphanage to be rebuilt in October

An Armenian orphanage, publicly known as “Kamp Armen,” in Istanbul’s Tuzla district, which was demolished on April 8 to prepare for the construction of a new building, have been chosen to be rebuilt in October.

A dormitory where 100 young people could stay, cultural center, foyer, library, auditorium and multi-purpose halls will be built on the land belonging to the Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church and School Foundation.

Zaven Khanjian, the head of the Armenian Missionary Association of America, his wife Sona Khanjian and students from the Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church and School Foundation visited the area.

“This land has always been a source of fertility to us. I want it to be a beautiful place which will serve the youth and integrate them into society after educating them in a cultural and social sense,” said Zaven Khanjian.

The project has been prepared as a social facility suitable for the information age, said Gedikpaşa Church Pastor Krikor Ağabaloğlu, adding that the reconstruction of Kamp Armen brought Armenian communities together.

The orphanage was built in 1962 by the Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church, as a former building on the site could not host the increasing number of Armenian students arriving from various parts of Anatolia.

During the summer of 1962 and afterwards, Armenian orphans, between the ages of eight and 12, worked on the construction of the buildings at the camp.

Known as the orphanage where Hrank Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist who was murdered in 2007, and his wife, Rakel Dink, met, studied and grew up, the orphanage was expropriated by authorities in 1987 on the basis of a 1936 bill preventing minority foundations from acquiring property.

“We have turned that flat barren land into a place that is getting greener and more colorful. We went to live a camp life, we built camps and returned to our boarding school that summer,” Dink had written in a column in 1996, describing the days when they built the camp in the 1960s.

As the legal process and the lawsuits took years, in 2007 Dink was gunned down in broad daylight in front of his office in Istanbul before seeing the court verdict regarding the orphanage.

Although the Turkish government signed a decree in 2011 to return property taken away from minority foundations in the past, the orphanage was left out of its scope.

The building changed hands several times before being bought by Fatih Ulusoy, who had decided to demolish it to make room for new buildings in 2015.

The controversial plan was later shelved as Ulusoy donated it to the Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church and School Foundation after a group of activists protested the demolition in front of construction vehicles, drawing public attention to the orphanage.

The protesters, who had held a vigil for 19 days, said on May 27, 2015, that they will resume camping in the area until the day the license for the buildings is given to the foundation.

Hrant Dink, Türkiye, TURKEY,