Istanbul Mayor İmamoğlu backs youth centre in memory of Hrant Dink
by Marian Demir

The mayor himself, an opponent of Erdoğan, made the announcement on social media. The authorities expropriated the orphanage, which was set for demolition in 2015. It will now be a place for youth socialisation in memory of the Armenian journalist killed by a young extremist.


Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's main rival for the future leadership of Turkey, plans to turn the Armenian orphanage in Tuzla where slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink grew up, into Kamp Armen youth centre.

The mayor of Turkey’s business capital made the announcement on social media, praising the great Armenian journalist who was chief editor of the Agos weekly paper, killed 14 years ago.

In his message, Mayor İmamoğlu said that the Municipal Council of Istanbul gave the green light to redevelop the orphanage in Tuzla, a town south of Istanbul. Dink grew up at the facility. Now plans are to turn it into the Kamp Armen youth centre.

Hrant Dink studied at the orphanage. In 2005, the Armenian journalist was convicted for writing about the Armenian genocide. On 19 January 2007, he was shot and killed by an 18-year-old man. At the time, the murder was seen as a terrorist act to prevent Turkey from joining the European Union.

Since then, Dink has become a symbol of the struggle against fascism and the obscurantism of the Turkish government, embodied by President Erdoğan’s policy of “nationalism and Islam“.

The orphanage began as a shelter in the early 1950s for poor or Armenian orphans from all over Anatolia, on the ground floor of the Armenian Protestant church of Gedikpaşa.

At the time, as the number of children staying increased, the future journalist Hrant Dink with a group of 30 friends aged 8 to 12 built a youth camp on land near the church.

Turkish authorities seized the orphanage in 1987 following a decision by the Turkish Supreme Court.

In 2015 the owner of the land tried to demolish the camp, but the plan was stopped. Today, many hope to see it turned into a youth centre dedicated to Dink’s memory.