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#1 Yervant1


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Posted 03 February 2015 - 11:52 AM


12:46, 03 Feb 2015
Siranush Ghazanchyan

Armenian community of Turkey has won a legal battle for the ownership
of a historic cemetery in Istanbul in the latest success story for
the return of properties seized from minorities in the wake of legal
amendments,Daily Sabah reports.

The Prime Ministry's Directorate General of Foundations, which
oversees properties belonging to religious and ethnic minorities,
has handed over the title deed for an ancient Armenian cemetery in
Istanbul's central Å~^iÅ~_li district to an Armenian church foundation.

Following new laws allowing the return of properties to their
rightful owners, Beyoglu Uc Horan (Yerrortutyun or Trinity) Church
Foundation had applied to the Directorate in 2011 for the ownership
of the cemetery. After four years and a settlement of legal matters,
the Directorate granted ownership to the foundation for the cemetery,
which covers some 41,950 square meters in the heart of Istanbul.

The cemetery's history dates back to the 19th century in which a
Sultan's decree ordered its handover to the Armenian community. In
the 1930s, its ownership was transferred to the Istanbul Municipality.

Yet, Armenian families were allowed to bury their deceased next of kin
in the cemetery even though they had no official deeds for the plots.

Among the cemetery's notable occupants are Arman Manukyan, a notable
professor of economy from Bogazici University, opera singer Toto
Karaca, composer Onno Tunc, Armenian patriarchs, and Armenian lawmaker
Berc Keresteciyan Turker, who is known for his contributions to the
Turkish War of Independence.

The place is the latest property that the Armenian community has
obtained back after their confiscation by the state. In 2012, the
Directorate General of Foundations had returned the title deed of
the Armenian Catholic Cemetery in Å~^iÅ~_li to the community and
a valuable plot in Zeytinburnu district to Yedikule Surp Pırgic
Hospital Foundation.

Foundations set up by non-Muslim minorities were granted the right
to acquire properties in 1912 but a new law in 1935 ordered them to
declare the properties they owned and register their title deeds. In
1936, a list of entire properties owned by minorities was handed to
the Directorate General of Foundations and minorities were prevented
from acquiring any property other than those in the list, thanks to
an unofficial ban that was viewed as the state's hostility towards
minorities who were treated as "second-class" citizens. In 1976, the
Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals had effectively enforced the ban and
also ordered the return of properties minorities had acquired until
that year. Soon, countless plots and buildings, especially in upscale
districts of Istanbul, were handed to the Treasury after their seizure
from Greek and Armenian communities.

Markar Esayan, a columnist for Daily Sabah, says minorities have
suffered from "illegal policies" of the state-run foundations authority
that exploited legal loopholes. "Until [2008], they suffered at the
hands of fascistic measures," he says, referring to the year that
an amendment in the relevant laws "helped the state to repair its
past mistakes."

"Laws in the past dealt a blow to the self-sustainability of the
churches whose survival solely depended on schools, hospitals and
other sources of revenues," Esayan says. He noted that a series of
decrees helped minorities to regain their rights in terms of return
of properties. "Currently, properties returned constitute 10 percent
of the total properties supposed to be returned. Nevertheless, it
is a very important, democratic step that the state stopped seeing
minorities as enemies," Esayan says. He said that minorities complain
of several technical shortcomings in laws regarding church foundations
that sometimes complicate the procedure of returning the properties.

"The rate of returns is not sufficient. Yet, what matters more now
is a change in the mindset, a very radical change (in the view of
minorities by the state)," he says.

Associate Professor Toros Alcan, chairman of Armenian community's Surp
Hac Tibrevank Foundation and board member of Directorate General of
Foundations, says the return of properties was "what the minorities
yearned for decades." "I can safely say on behalf of minorities
that we are very happy with decisions to return the properties,"
Alcan says. He said what then prime minister and incumbent president
Recep Tayyip Erdogan once said, "It is not a blessing by the state
for minorities but rather a resumption of their rights."


#2 Yervant1


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Posted 05 February 2015 - 09:35 AM


February 5, 2015 09:40

Mehmet Polatel

Photo: Photolure

Yerevan /Mediamax/. Turkish historian Mehmet Polatel presented his
"Seizure of Armenian Property during Armenian Genocide and after it"
study at the American University of Armenia (AUA).

Mehmet Polatel studies late Ottoman history and early period of the
Turkish Republic. He is currently working on his Ph.D. thesis at
Bogazici University.

Mediamax has put down some of the Turkish historian's ideas.

"I believe the seizure of the Armenian property during the Genocide
and after is an important subject both in academic study and political
terms. Despite the continuous policy of destruction, the Armenian
property and realty are the evidence of rich Armenian heritage and
communal culture in Turkey. The future of the Armenian property and the
study of its confiscation have pivotal significance in forming an idea
about the integrity of the Armenian Genocide and its implications".

"The policy of denial has destroyed a number of documents verifying
the property of Armenians and kept in the archives of the Ottoman
Empire. And the archives that were preserved are not open to

"The seized Armenian property was being handed over to immigrants,
those who had returned from the Balkan War or to Muslim businessmen or
was being used for state needs. The Armenian property, for instance,
churches, schools and other institutions, served as arsenal, police
stations or hospitals in the future".

"The seizure of the Armenian property was carried out on both state
and individual levels. Governmental bodies, local authorities as
well as individuals, particularly, the neighbors of Armenians, were
involved in it".


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