Time in Yerevan: 11:07:36,   17 December

Armenian Bar Association issues statement on Camp Armen attack

YEREVAN, AUGUST 19, ARMENPRESS. Armenian Bar Association of USA demanded from the Government of Turkey to ensure the security of peaceful protests made for the purpose of “Camp Armen” Armenian orphanage preservation in Istanbul Tuzla district.  Armenpress reports, citing “Asbarez”,  that the Armenian Bar Association— the largest organization of judges, law academics, lawyers and other legal professionals of Armenian descent in the diaspora—demands that Turkish civil authorities immediately conduct a thorough, public investigation into August 13  beatings of Nor Zartonk Youth Movement members in order to bring the responsible parties to justice. The Armenian Bar Association stands in firm solidarity with the Nor Zartonk Youth Movement as it seeks to prevent yet another unlawful taking of Armenian private property by the Turkish State.  Indeed, the State’s attempt to take the Camp Armen property is in clear violation of several international treaties of which Turkey is a signatory.

First, the Treaty of Lausanne guarantees Turkish nationals belonging to Greek, Jewish and  Armenian minorities “an equal right to establish, manage and control at their own expense, any charitable, religious and social institutions, any schools and other establishments for instruction and education, with the right to use their own language and to exercise their own religion freely therein.”  See Section III, Article 40.  The treaty further provides that no official action by the state shall interfere or prevail over Turkey’s obligations under the treaty.  Id. at Section III, Article 37.  The Turkish State’s attempts to take Armenian private property at Camp Armen, therefore, plainly violates its legal obligations under the Treaty of Lausanne.

Moreover, the actions of the Turkish State are contrary to its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.  The Convention guarantees the right to property and provides, in no unclear terms: “Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions.  No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.”  See Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.  The Turkish State’s actions regarding Camp Armen are a blatant insult to its explicit legal commitments under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The facts clearly establish that the property upon which Camp Armen sits is owned by the Gedikpasa Armenian Protestant Church Foundation. 

The Armenian Bar Association forcefully condemns the actions of the Turkish State and vehemently demands the complete and immediate restoration of the Gedikpasa Armenian Protestant Church Foundation’s property and legal rights to Camp Armen.

Demolition of the Camp Armen orphanage started in May but was subsequently halted, when the owner of the land said he would donate it to the Armenian community in Istanbul. Efforts to demolish the orphanage - where thousands of Armenian orphans, including slain journalist Hrant Dink, had grown up - began on May 6, drawing widespread attention once news broke on social media. Later in the day, the demolition was stopped when groups including activists and leading figures from the Armenian community rushed to the area to protest the destruction. The protesters, who had held a vigil for 19 days, vowed on May 27 that they would continue camping in the area until the license for the buildings is given to the foundation. Pastor Krikor Agabaloglu of the Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church said they planned to rebuild the demolished structures as soon as they receive the license.  

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