October 27, 2015
Today, Kamp Armen’s deed has been returned to Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church Foundation in Tuzla, Turkey, reports Agos. The Foundation’s lawyer Seba Aslangil confirms that the procedures at the Land Registry Office have been officially completed.
Previously called Tuzla Armenian Children’s Camp, Kamp Armen hosted 1,500 orphan Armenian children from the Istanbul area, including Hrant Dink and Rakel (Yağbasan) Dink, until 1983. Kamp Armen is considered one of the most important memory centers of Armenian society in Istanbul.
On May 6, Fatih Ulusoy, the owner of the camp land, decided to demolish the facilities of the camp. Word about his decision spread throughout social media, where #KampArmen soon became a trending topic. Popularity from this advocate campaign halted the demolition and on May 22 Ulusoy agreed to donate the land to the Armenian community.
However, Ulusoy did not end up giving the deed as he originally promised and the meetings to solve the issue continued with committees including officials from Tuzla Municipality, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, and AKP government. During the meetings, Tuzla Municipality confiscated part of the camp land, decreasing the size of the land owned by Ulusoy. After the expropriation and the meetings concluded, Ulusoy returned the deed to Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church Foundation.
During this process, Nor Zartonk and Kamp Armen Solidarity Movement activists were on site at the camp for almost six months.
“On the 175th day of resistance, Kamp Armen was returned to the Armenian people. Our thanks to all of you,” said Nor Zartonk activist Sayat Tekir in a video message posted on the Kamp Armen Facebook page. Even though volunteers who rushed into Kamp Armen upon hearing the demolition managed to halt the destruction, some parts of the building were already destroyed.