Turks rebuild Armenian churches while keeping silent on origins -
Armenian Church of Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Virgin Mary), now the KurtuluŞ Camii, in Aintap (Gaziantep)
The municipal authorities of Ayntap, the capital of Turkey’s Gaziantep Province, say they have completed the repairs of two Armenian churches and initiated the reconstruction of the third, according to Agos.
Additionally, some 200 houses in the same district are said to have been rebuilt.
The publication says that different development companies have started pulling down constructions in the district to build new hotels and cafés.
“The district Bay has seen the defense of Ayntap; it has been the district where [Mustafa Kemal] Ataturk was registered.” the city’s former mayor, Asim Guzelbay, was quoted as saying.
He admitted that Bay was dominantly populated by Armenians before 1915, with the Armenians presence dating from the fifth century.
“The district with a population of 80,000 had 36,000 Armenians in 1911. The Armenians of Ayntap had 25 educational institutions there. The Armenian potters, weavers and leather-makers were acclaimed not only in Ayntap, but also in Urfa, Marash, Adiyaman and the neighboring regions. Eighteen thousand Armenians residents who survived the Genocide left Ayntap in 1922,” he added.
Eva Sharlak, an arts professor, further gave her comments on the redevelopment activities in different cities and towns of Anatolia. “It is important for the reconstructed building to be returned to their governments. We have to think about that. When we look at the construction activities, we see that all the cultures in these regions are important and problematic. They must be taken under protection,” she said.