Civilian society organizations who have organized the resistance at Tuzla since 6 May, Wednesday, when the demolition of Kamp Armen began, and have continued their vigil since, spoke about their demands.
Burak Erginer, Yeryüzüne Özgürlük/Freedom to Earth Association:
We heard about the demolition on the day it began. We already had plans to use the camp as an occupation site before the demolition decision had been taken; however demolition began before we could carry it out. The Freedom to Earth Association mostly focuses on animal rights, but we do not differentiate between human and animal rights. We are here at the camp to protest against this demolition on the 100th anniversary of the Genocide, and to give our support to the Armenian community. There is no good intent involved in this demolition; in fact, we find it revealing that the camp is being demolished on the 100th anniversary of the Genocide. Our demand is the return of both the property and use rights of the camp to the Armenian community.
Kerem Yavuz Demirbaş, Dört Ayaklı Şehir/Quadruped City Platform:
We organized together as the Quadruped City Platform and Nor Zartonk/New Renascence. By the time we received the news of demolition, we had already prepared activity programs thinking the demolition would begin later, but since they hastily and secretively began the demolition, we could not organize any program. We see it both as part of the Genocide process, and as an urban transformation issue. We see it within the context of public spaces being subjected to private capital, like in huge projects such as the third bridge and the third airport. This site is also an important place for the people of Tuzla. The district has been invaded by luxury villas, there is no place left to breathe. There is an independent initiative called “Tuzla Sahili’ne Dokunma/Don’t Touch the Tuzla Coast”; they are protesting against the building of a marina. There is also an ecological aspect of the issue. A natural green area has been formed at Kamp Armen over the years; hedgehogs, butterflies, it is a living area for various animals… Since all the surrounding areas have been invaded, the camp has become a refuge for animals.
The camp must be returned to the Armenian community. It was the Armenians who officially purchased the plot, registered its deed, constructed the building, planted the trees, and cared for the animals. The Armenian community has the freedom to use the camp in whatever way it wishes.
Norayr Olgar, Nor Zartonk/New Renascence Initiative
We were made aware of the situation when our friends in the area and Garabet Orunöz called us to say that the demolition had begun. When we arrived, people had already gathered at the site, and we swiftly organized and made a call for solidarity and support. We were expecting the demolition. When we visited the camp on April 28, Garabet Orunöz had told us about the plan for demolition; so we had already organized accordingly. The demolition was expected to begin in late May, so we were planning an occupation; but since the demolition began earlier we could not prevent the partial demolition of the building. As Nor Zartonk, we set up a forum, and the Kamp Armen solidarity began. Nor Zartonk’s view regarding the future is first and foremost the unconditional return of the camp to the İncirdibi Protestant Church. As for the process that follows, it is our desire for Kamp Armen to once again function as a children’s camp where children from all communities come together.