Malatya Municipality destroyed Armenian cemetery chapel because it had hut for guard against its destruction?

On 3rd February 2012, Malatya Municipality ‘damaged’ an Armenian cemetery. In fact, it ‘accidentally [yanlışlıkla]’ bulldozed the cemetery chapel. According to the head of the chapel’s funders (1), Hosrof Köletavitoğlu, the Municipality wrecked the chapel just when the builders were ‘about to finish it’.

Remarkably, Malatya Mayor Ahmet Çakır’s excuse was that the Municipality ‘only [sadece]’ wanted the earthmovers to demolish the guard hut (which was built to protect the chapel from damage or destruction).

The Municipality cited ‘several complaints‘ from locals. Köletavitoğlu noted that the complaints were that the chapel ‘look[ed] like a church [Kiliseye benziyor]’.

Then the Municipality implied that the guard hut’s construction was unlicensed, so it had ordered the hut’s demolition. The Municipality claimed that the chapel was demolished as well because of a ‘misunderstanding‘. Köletavitoğlu stated that Malatya Municipality had licensed the construction of the guard hut as well as the chapel.

The funders’ former head, Garo Paylan, believed that the chapel was destroyed ‘because of the “genocide denial motion” in France’. Paylan explained that ‘the municipality first asked us to lower the roof of the chapel even though the project had been approved before’, while the French parliament considered the bill against denial of crimes against humanity (and thus against the denial of the Armenian Genocide).

1: the Association of Philanthropist Armenians from Malatya (Malatyalı Hayırsever Ermeniler Derneği (HAYDER)).

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7 Responses to “Malatya Municipality destroyed Armenian cemetery chapel because it had hut for guard against its destruction?”

  1. the turks will never change.they teach their children from a young age to be ultra nationalistic and this runs through the whole society.look at cyprus and what has happend to the churches there.
    kyri.

    • I can understand why you believe that, because nationalism is powerful and widespread in Turkey; but I disagree. I know very anti-nationalist Turks; and Turks who are “open-minded nationalists”, willing to consider and change their beliefs.

      Turks could equally say that ‘the Greeks will never change’, ‘look at what has happened to the churches in Cyprus and Greece’. The argument is wrong. It depends upon collective guilt; it ignores counter-examples of peace, coexistence and cooperation; and it does nothing to encourage reconciliation.

  2. im not anti turk,in fact i have many turkish freinds .i have the utmost respect for the turks and kurds who fight for their rights in turkey[they are much braver than me] but the governments of turkey have shown time and time again to be nationalistic and regional bullys.
    i was born in london but my parents came from cyprus and your right,the greek cypriots co-existed happily with turkish cypriots for centuries.
    during the troubles in cyprus the greeks were just as much to blame and it was the greek fascist who practically invited the turks to invade when they deposed makarios.

    the problem i have with the turks is that they have tried to eradicate any greek heritage from northern cyprus [as they have done with asia minor] we cant just ignore the fact of over 500 churches destroyed and excuse the turks for turning a blind eye to the wanton vandalism and looting of greek cultural buildings and archaeological sites.however unpalatable that may be.in general they have not shown themselves to be very tolerant of ethnic minoritis.this bulldozing of an armenian chaple comes as no suprise.
    erdogan dreams of another ottoman empire and that is dangerous for the whole region.

    personally im all for reconciliation but it has to be a two way street.i teach my children to respect all humans,regardless of religeon or color,if only everyone else did the same.
    kyri.

    • Then we can agree that Turkey won’t change soon; but I do hope – I really want to believe – that it will change eventually. 🙂

      Turkey hasn’t destroyed over 500 churches in northern Cyprus (but obviously the destruction of one church is a vile crime). There are about 520-560 churches there in total. The Church of Cyprus Synodical Committee on Monuments and Art has listed 19 demolished churches. Still, many churches have been vandalised or damaged. And many have decayed (because no-one takes care of them). Decay is the Turkish occupying forces’ responsibility; but it is not destruction.

      The records of a bicommunal architectural survey, Cyprus Temples (by the Cyprus Civil Engineers’ and Architects’ Association and Chamber of Cyprus Turkish Architects), show that at least 16 mosques have been destroyed. (Also, Cyprus Temples only surveyed the mosques in southern Cyprus, and did not have all of its records online; so the number is higher.)

      So, if the Turks have tried to eradicate any Greek heritage from northern Cyprus, then the Greeks have tried to eradicate all Turkish heritage from the entire island.

      Hopefully your children will grow up knowing a reunified Cyprus.

      • a reunified cyprus with turkish and greek cypriots living together would be nice,allthough personally,i was born in london and live in london and wouldnt dream of living anywhere else.
        anyway,enough politics,just wanted to say i enjoy your blog,eventhough im a big antiquities collector myself [everything bought ethically of course]
        kyri.

      • Yeah, I can understand that, I’d prefer to live in London too. (I didn’t grow up here, but more of my life is here than there.)

        Thanks – though you don’t need to add “even though” you’re an antiquities collector! 🙂 I share the passion. My problem is only with unethical collecting.

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