VAN (Dogan)–Residents of Van, in what is now South Eastern Turkey, have discovered human bones underneath the construction site of a local school. The Turkish Gendarmerie and local prosecutors will be asked to investigate whether an Armenian cemetery had been registered in the area, the Turkish Dogan News Agency Reported Wednesday.
The discovery happened Saturday after workers started their foundation dig for a primary school in the village of Aydinocak in Van, the cradle of Armenian civilization until the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
While the local villagers said the location of the Armenian cemetery was well known, the region’s administrator, Tahsin Aksu, said he would be asking the local prosecutor’s office and the gendarmerie to launch inquiries into the matter.
The area where the cemetery is suspected to have been located was officially assigned to the village as pastureland but was known by locals to contain an Armenian cemetery.
One villager, who remained anonymous, told Dogan that his family has lived in the village for the past two centuries and is very familiar with the history of the cemetery. “Most of the tombstones are destroyed. Some used them to build their homes,” he said.
He said more bones would be unearthed if the construction continued. “We know it is an Armenian cemetery. It doesn’t matter which religion they belong to. This is history. Building a school on top of a cemetery is very disrespectful,” he said.
Despite that, Aksu said the regional administration had no information about an Armenian cemetery being there, adding, “After the inquiries, we will decide what to do.”