Yukarı Bakraçlı, Turkey, August 8, 2017
Turks are gradually dismantling an ancient Armenian church of the Varagavank monastic complex on the slopes of Mt. Varag, in Yukarı Bakraçlı in Eastern Turkey, using its stones to construct a mosque, reports the newspaper Yeni Özgür Politika.
The church was initially constructed in the 7th-8th centuries. During the period of the Armenian Kingdom, it was the place of residence of the Archbishop of Van. The monastery was abandoned after the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Kingdom in 1915. The head of the Union for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural and Historical Monuments of Van Ali Kalçık noted that the ancient church is on the verge of complete destruction.
Stones from the monastery have also been used for houses and barns. Many of the buildings in the neighborhood were built with materials taken from the churches.
Although the Turkish authorities state that they have a “reverent respect” for the cultural heritage of religious ethnic minorities, in accordance with UNESCO, of the 913 churches that survived the Armenian Genocide, by 1974, 464 were totally destroyed, 252 were in ruins, and 197 were on the verge of extinction.
Recent media reports have also stated that a toilet, showers, and parking a lot have been installed in an Armenian cemetery in the same province with the permission of local authorities.