Turkish-Armenians protest foundation board

Turkish-Armenians protest foundation board

Vercihan Ziflioğlu ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish-Armenians protest foundation board

A group of Turkish-Armenians participate in a demonstration in Istanbul. Around 100 people called for the resignation of the board of the Üç Horan Church Foundation

A group of Turkish-Armenians staged a demonstration after a religious service yesterday to protest fraud allegations leveled against foundation’s board elections.

Around 100 people called for the resignation of the board of the Üç Horan Armenian Church Foundation, who they claimed were occupying the post illegally.

Garo Paylan, a leading figure among the protesters, told the Hürriyet Daily News the protest was a class action.

“The current administration labels Armenians from eastern Turkey as ‘Kurds’ and does not want them to be on the board. These foundations belong to the whole community and the administration method of the Armenian community should change.”

The board members of the foundation did not attend the religious service, reportedly to avoid facing the protesters.

The Turkish-Armenian community owns 42 foundations, all of them based in Istanbul. Üç Horan has the largest amount of revenue among them.

In May 2009, the foundation applied to the General Directorate of Foundations to elect their administrative board. However, reports said that after the polls the administrative board had conducted an unlawful election for its own ends. The election was canceled and the issue was taken to court.

The General Directorate of Foundations demanded a new election, which was scheduled for Nov. 21 last year. However, the same administrative board was found to have unlawfully prepared an election list and the election was postponed again.

Paylan said the foundation board has filed complaints against 603 members of the Armenian community. “They have been resisting change for 35 years, such practice cannot survive without the state’s support,” he added.

Sarkis Arık, from the southeastern province of Batman, said he was sad to be labeled a Kurd by the foundation’s board. “The Armenians of the east survived despite killings and pressure, but we are not allowed to take responsibility in the foundation,” he said. “We have been fighting against the system in the east and struggling against our own community, which does not want to accept us in the west.”

Varujan Turaç, a protester from the Central Anatolian province of Sivas, said he wrote a letter to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about the situation. “The Armenians in Istanbul do not want to include in the foundation’s administration the Armenians from the east, who are mostly working class, but we will not give up,” he said.