History of #KampArmen in 20 images
The story of an Armenian orphanage in Istanbul tells what happened to Armenians in Turkey after 1915.
The modern Turkish state confiscated properties of non-Muslims starting from 1915. After the genocide, “abandoned properties commission” sold Armenian goods by public auctions. In 1942, Wealth Tax forced wealthy non-Muslims to sell their properties. 1955 Istanbul Pogrom created more “abandoned” properties to change hands to Turkish owners.
But it was the 1974 high-court decision that put the final nail: The non-Muslim foundations were deemed legally unfit to own properties they purchased.
This week, a plan to demolish Kamp Armen, the Armenian Children’s Camp in Tuzla, Istanbul, has started. While the current “legal owner” wants to build villas, the Armenian community claims historical ownership and wants the government to undo its past wrongs.
As often, it takes a retrospective look to understand today’s Turkey. Here is the history of #KampArmen in 20 images.
Since there were no Armenian schools left in Anatolia after 1915, orphans and poor children stayed at the orphanage at the first floor of the Gedikpaşa (Kumkapı) Armenian Protestant Church in Istanbul.
Church foundation choosed this field in Tuzla (east of Istanbul) to build a summer camp for the children; a plain field between the sea and a nearby lake.
15 November 1962
Church bought the field from a local, Sait Durmaz. After Istanbul Governorship and the General Directorate of Foundations approved the purchase, “Kumkapı Armenian Protestant Church Foundation” became the registered owner of the land as of 31 July 1964.
Summer of 1963
30 children, between the ages of 8 to 12, were the first group of children who helped to build the camp.
At first, they stayed in tents, and under a local foreman (Hasan Güloğlu) started to dig the foundations of the building.
They planted poplar trees.
After a few summers, the first floor was done, they could leave the tents.
Meanwhile, the poplar trees were growing.
But the kids were still kids ☺
Water for the trees.
Many a little, makes Camp Armen.
Then, morning gymnastics took place under tree shades.
Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist who was assassinated on 19 January 2007, joined the children of Camp Armen at 7 when his parents were separated. He met his future wife, Rakel Dink, there and the couple took care of the children until the camp was seized.
23 February 1979
General Directorate of Foundation applied to the court to declare Church’s title invalid. After a 4-year-long legal battle, Children’s Camp area and its building was given back to its previous owner, free of charge.
Kamp Armen with no kids, no chicken, no laughter.
7 April 2015
The last reunion at Kamp Armen, last picnic with kids, last songs..
6 May 2015, morning
6 May 2015, evening
7 May 2015
The wall with the fish, that Hrant Dink drew, is still standing.
8 May 2015
Activists, politicians, children who grew up in Kamp Armen — and their children — united to stop the demolition.
The current “legal owner” of Kamp Armen, a wealthy businessmen, tells that he started the demolition without knowing the history of the orphanage. He suspended the demolition as of 7 May, and gave a one month notice for a solution.
Activists, who are currently occupying Kamp Armen demand that the property should be given back to the Armenian community.
Bonus: Swallow’s Nest
Hrant Dink tells about the “Atlantis Civilisation” in this 2007 documentary