Catholic Armenians fight to regain school

Catholic Armenians fight to regain school

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Catholic Armenians fight to regain school

‘We paid for the building’s purchase, but we are paying rent nonetheless, says Rita Nurnur, head of an Istanbul Catholic Armenian school’s foundation. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Turkey’s Catholic Armenians are waging a legal battle to retrieve the property rights for an Armenian Catholic school that was confiscated by the Foundations Directorate General, despite the fact that it had not been proclaimed under the 1936 Declaration.

“We paid for the building’s purchase, and we are in possession of its title deed. We also have the document [showing] the back-then Istanbul governor’s approval for the purchase, but we are paying rent nonetheless,” Rita Nurnur, head of the Armenian school’s foundation, told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Meeting with Charter Commission

Nurnur said that they had already met with European Union (EU) Minister Egemen Bağış over the matter and that Parliament’s Constitution Commission had also taken up the issue at the start of this week. The number of students attending the school fell to as low as 35 due to the fear that it would be shut down.

Adnan Ertem, the head of the Foundations Directorate General, has provided much support for their cause, according to Rita Nurnur. “He encouraged us to file a new suit as the foundation, [and] the process is still underway.”

“The process is quite thorny even if the Foundations Directorate General does its best, as the [foundation] was not registered on the 1936 Declaration. The [decision] to return [the property] has been overturned for now. It is clear the foundation is facing a rights violation. It needs to push forward with its legal battle,” Laki Vingas, a representative for all minority foundations in the Foundations Directorate General, told Daily News.

Turkey’s minorities declared their properties in 1936 upon the government’s request, but many of those properties did not remain registered under the names of minority foundations, and many were even sold to third parties in the following years.

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