Armenian cemetery bulldozed, destroyed in eastern Van

An Armenian cemetery in Turkey's eastern province of Van has been destroyed by bulldozers. A deputy of the HDP took the issue to the agenda of parliament, asking Vice President Fuat Oktay if authorities have launched an investigation into the destruction.

Duvar English

An Armenian cemetery in the eastern province of Van's Tuşba district has been bulldozed and destroyed.

The destruction was undertaken by someone who is claimed to be the owner of the land, the Mezopotamya news agency reported on Aug. 24.

The neighborhood of Kalecik, also known by the name “Lezk,” was a neighborhood inhabited by Armenians before the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

Following the Van earthquake of 2011, the government-backed housing agency TOKİ built houses in the neighborhood.

As for the cemetery in the neighborhood, its land allegedly belongs to a private person who bulldozed the graves in the past few days.

The gravestones and bones that came out of the land have been scattered around.

One of the neighborhood locals reacted against the incident, saying cemeteries are holy and untouchable in all of the religions. “This is heartbreaking. What did you want from these graves? These bones should not be outside [the earth]. Which conscience can accept this?” said Berna Karataş, deeming the bulldozing “shameful.”

Meanwhile, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) MP Murat Sarısaç took the issue to the agenda of parliament. In a parliamentary question addressing Vice President Fuat Oktay, Sarısaç asked if authorities have launched an investigation into the destruction undertaken at the Armenian cemetery.

“Why are the Armenian cemeteries as well as cultural and religious structures in Van not protected? If there are measures of protection, why are similar destructions undertaken?” he asked.

"Due to the activities of treasure hunting and apathy of the authorities, historical and cultural structures around Van are being destroyed," he said. 

The HDP MP also asked if the government has a plan to put several Armenian cemeteries located in Van under protection.