Turkish trustee-mayor insists on keeping toilet over Armenian graves

A Turkish government-appointed trustee of Van’s Edremit Municipality has told that the toilet which was claimed to be built in an Armenian cemetery and a historical mound is not going to be destroyed despite the fact that Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister told otherwise, the Diken online news portal has reported on Monday.

According to the report, it was claimed that the toilet was built on the historical Dilkaya Höyüğü and the Armenian graveyard. Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party’s (HDP) İstanbul deputy Garo Paylan examined on the site has said that “There is no doubt that the area is an Armenian graveyard.”

Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said that the decision was made to demolish the toilet within 60 days and said “We will be a close-follower of this issue.”

However, according to the pro-Armenian Agos daily, the trustee-mayor Atıf Çiçekli told in his social media account at the weekend that Kurtulmuş’s statement was twisted and there would be no removal of the toilet. Çiçekli pointed out that Paylan is lying by emphasizing deputy Paylan’s Armenian origin. Trustee Çiçekli also repeated his words that there was no Armenian graveyard in the region.

Çiçekli also told in the social media that they are going to make the place even more beautiful in addition to making it such an attractive place in the service of people all over the country. “I hope that I will continue to serve you by increasing the quality of the boat, the jets, sails and the all modern facilities.”

After the statement of the trustee on social media, HDP deputy Paylan shared the Parliamentary Committee minutes regarding the discussion. “Let me pass by cursing hate speech of the trustee, but I hope that he will be brought into line over the toilets on Armenian Cemetery,” said Paylan.

The mound, where historic artifacts dating to 3000 B.C. were found, was damaged by construction of the changing rooms and toilets. A total of 24 graves were discovered around the mound. The area where the graves were found was once settled by Armenians.

A beach was opened on July 23, 2017 by Van trustee Murat Zorluoğlu and Edremit Municipality trustee Atıf Çiçekli who were both appointed by government as part of an ongoing crackdown against Kurdish politicians.

Turkey has stepped up political pressure on Kurdish politicians in recent months as the government has appointed trustees to the management of dozens of municipalities and arrested at least 74 co-mayors and 10 deputies from the HDP.

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