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08/31/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) –  An Armenian cemetery in Van was destroyed by bulldozers, leaving gravestones and bones upturned and strewn across the site. Someone claiming to be a landowner and desiring to set up apartments came with heavy machinery and began the demolition. The cemetery was located in Kalecik, which was an Armenian neighborhood even prior to the 1915 genocide.

Armenian cemeteries often hold significant meaning for the people group as a way to connect with their heritage and lost family members who died in the 1915 genocide. The destruction of this cemetery robs families of their ability to connect in varied ways to their past.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Van MP Murat Sarısaç submitted requests to parliament, questioning the efforts being made to provide adequate security for Armenian sites.

Armenian religious and cultural sites faced increased threats to preservation. Earlier this year, a 19th-century Armenian church was posted for sale to a Turkish real estate website, claiming it was “perfect for a tourist attraction because it is in a UNESCO protected area.” In 2017, a restroom, dressing room, and car park were built on top of another Armenian cemetery in Van province. Other cemeteries also face desecration more recently.  Treasure hunters are also a common issue for historic churches that have been unable to be restored.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: [email protected].