ISTANBUL—Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) visited the Armenian cemetery in Van, where local government authorities have built a public bathroom facility.
According to the Istanbul-based Agos Armenian newspaper, Paylan spoke to local residents and inspected the site, saying that wherever he touched, “human bones were found.”
“Wherever I touched, human bones were found. There is no doubt anymore that this territory used to be an Armenian cemetery,” he said.
“A Muslim chapel, a toilet and a café are built on the cemetery. It is sad that we were not able to protect the remains of our ancestors,” added Paylan who explained to Agos that the site was an Armenian neighborhood dating back to the Urartu period, 850 century BC.
The area in question is in the Erdemit district of the Van province, where late last month a public beach was opened.
Edremit is situated on the coast of the Lake Van, approximately 11 miles from the city of Van. The current name of Edremit originates from Armenian name of Artamet, which literally means “Near the Fields” in Armenian, as it lies near grape fields and apple trees the line the coast of Lake Van.
Artamet was founded as a small town at the shores of Lake Van in Tosp district of Vaspurakan province, in the middle of Historical Armenia. Throughout history, the city has had several names: Artemida, Zard, Artashessyan, Avan, Artavanyan, and Edremit. In the 10th century, Artamet was known as a feudal city with a population of 12,000. It was renowned for the best apples in Armenia.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Artamet boasted approximately 500 households, 435 of which were Armenian. After the first Hamidian Massacres of 1894–1896, the Turkish population grew and Turks soon outnumbered the Armenians.
Prior of the Armenian Genocide, Artamet had 10 Armenian churches and a Greek church. Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, and other local Christians were almost entirely killed or driven out between 1915 and 1923. After the legal owners were massacred, thousands of their historical monuments were annihilated as well.
According to Agos, world-renowned Armenian artist, Arshile Gorky, was born in Erdemit. The newspaper added that a water fountain that was restored on Gorky’s property in 2015 by the Edremit municipality has been removed and water to the fountain was cut off.