The 500-year-old St. Marinos Armenian Monastery in Van, which was a convent and served as a leading educational institution is being neglected by local administrative officials, prompting Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkey’s parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) to sound the alarm in parliament.
Paylan told parliament that the 16th century Armenian religious center has been ruined due to neglect by local officials who have allowed treasure hunters and looters to roam free.
“This monastery, which has been known since the 16th century, has hosted up to 300 nuns at the time and was one of the leading educational centers in the region,” Paylan said, according to the Bianet news agency.
“Unfortunately, the building, which is also important in terms of architecture, is now in the phase of complete destruction, with years of neglect and vandalism of treasure hunters,” Paylan added.
“The historical and cultural structures in Van and its surroundings are destroyed because of treasure hunting and the indifference of the administration,” he continued.
He brought his grievance directly to the central authorities by posing the following questions to Turkey’s Tourism and Culture Minister Nuri Ersoy:
Have the individuals who excavate in hope of finding treasure at St. Marinos Monastery and its vicinity been identified and have legal proceeding been initiated against them?
Why are St. Marinos Monastery and other historical buildings belonging to Christians within the borders of Van province not been protected by your ministry?
Will you work to restore the St. Marinos Monastery?
Has an inventory of monasteries, churches and cultural structures built by Armenians in Van been conducted?
The elimination of cultural traces of Armenians has been carried out as a state policy until today. Are you planning to show that this policy has changed?