BY NANORE BARSOUMIAN
AKHTAMAR (Armenian Weekly)—A group of Armenian children from Armenia were told to leave Holy Cross (Sourp Khatch) church on the island of Akhtamar for lighting candles, singing, and praying.
The children, who were winners of Hay Aspet’s (Armenian Knight) television contest, were on a visit to Turkey.
Karin Tonoyan, founder and director of Hay Aspet, told News.am that the children wanted to light candles in the church, “but policemen said that it is forbidden, as ‘it is a museum and the walls will be stained.’ I told the children to stand in the center, not to stain the walls. The Children started singing and praying; but suddenly a policeman came and told us to leave the church.”
Tonoyan said that the kids left the church, but continued to sing outside it. They were not allowed to burn incense by the Khatchkars (cross-stones) or gravestones in the church’s surrounding area.
“The children tried to burn incense near one of the khatchkars but a Turkish policeman came up and stepped on it,” Tonoyan said.
A video clip posted on YouTube shows the kids singing “Der Voghormya” (“Lord Have Mercy”) as they are being told to step outside, where they continue singing the hymn. To watch the clip, click here.
Established in 2005, Hay Aspet Educational Philanthropic Fund is an organization based in Yerevan, which aims to encourage youth patriotism and activism in schools, through extracurricular activities, after school programs, and campaigns. One of their recent projects was organizing a children’s trip to historic Armenia, which ended on Aug. 17.