The Armenian Orphanage in Tuzla where the slain journalist Hrant Dink grew up will be turned into Camp Armen Youth Center, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) President Ekrem Imamoglu said in a twitter post.
Mayor Imamoglu said that the plan studies have started after the Municipality voted unanimously in 2017 to rebuild the camp as youth center.
The orphanage was built in 1962 by the Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church, as a former building on the site could not host the increasing number of Armenian students arriving from various parts of Anatolia.
Known as the orphanage where Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist who was murdered in 2007, and his wife, Rakel Dink, studied, it was expropriated by the Turkish state in 1987 on the basis of a 1936 bill preventing minority foundations from acquiring property.
Although the Turkish government signed a historic decree in 2011 to return property taken away from minority foundations, the camp was omitted, alongside hundreds of other properties.
Fatih Ulusoy, the land owner, had initially tried to demolish Kamp Armen in May 2015, but the controversial plan was later shelved as Ulusoy said he would donate it to the Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church and School Foundation.
Efforts to demolish the camp received widespread attention once the news broke on social media. The demolition was subsequently stopped when many people, including activists and leading figures from the Armenian community, rushed to the area to protest the demolition work.
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s municipal council on May 12 unanimously accepted the construction plan regarding the orphanage, which will be rebuilt taking the original building into account. The Kamp Armen area was taken under “Social and Cultural Facility Area” category in line with the Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church and School Foundation’s will.
The prominent Armenian-Turkish journalist, was shot dead at the age of 52 in broad daylight by an ultranationalist outside his office in Istanbul’s Sisli district on Jan. 19, 2007.
Ogun Samast, then a 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout, confessed to the killing and was sentenced to almost 23 years in jail back in 2011.
The case grew into a wider scandal after it emerged that security forces had been aware of a plot to kill Dink but failed to act.
While crowds gather each year at the spot that Dink was killed to commemorate him, this year’s commemoration will be held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.