The AKP government’s hate policy towards different beliefs and cultures continues to show itself. A mosque is being built in front of the historical Seven Church and Kevork Church in Van, while only one wall remained of the church of St. Bartolomeo.
In Van, where the Armenian population lived once, there are nearly 100 churches left by the Armenian people. However, in recent years, most of the churches have been demolished, especially under the AKP government, and many churches have been turned into stables.
If things continue like this event the last remaining churches will soon disappear completely. The most important of the remaining hundred Armenian churches are Akdamar, Aziz Bartolomeo and the Seven Churches. Due to international interest and public pressure, various restorations were made on the island of Akdamar, allowing it to survive.
The Seven Churches (Varaganak Monastery), also known as the place where Armenians published the Van Kartalı Newspaper, is located in the village of Bakraçlı, on the foot of Mount Erek. The walls of the Seven Churches, whose ceiling collapsed due to its use for barns, is about to collapse. One of the important features of the monastery, where important religious people were trained, is the printing press established in 1858 and the Van Kartalı Newspaper, defending the independence of Armenia.
The walls of the monastery, which were covered by trees and woods on the side of the villagers, are also about to collapse.
Surp Kevork Church and Surp Astvadzadzin Vankı (Ankık Virgin Mary Monastery) in the Döneç district are also about to disappear. There is now only one wall left of the Surp Kevrok Church in the middle of the village where 678 Armenians lived before the 1915 Genocide. A mosque was built adjacent to the church, which stood until the 1990s. Government officials claim that the church was destroyed in the earthquake. The surroundings and interiors of the church are filled with pits excavated by treasure hunters.
One of the important values of Van is St. Bartolomeo Monastery in Başkale district. The monastery, which is expected to be restored for about a hundred years, is quickly deteriorating. St. Bartolomeo Monastery is located in Albayrak Village of Başkale and date back to the XIII-XIV century. The church was converted into a police station in the 1990s. No renovation work was carried out after the Albayrak outpost was moved to another region in 2013.
The historical Çarpanak Church, located on Çarpanak Island in Van Lake, known to be built in the IX century, also faces the danger of destruction. The historical church on the island, located near the village of Dibekdüzü in Van, is waiting to be restored.
The Ardzvaper Monastery, located in the Salmanağa neighborhood of Van’s Erciş district, faces the danger of extinction, just like the historical Armenian Pilgrimage Church in Hacıkas village. Ardzvaper Monastery, which has been destroyed and damaged by treasure hunters is disappearing due to neglect.
Stating that there are 100 churches left by the Armenian people in Van and many of them have only the foundation left, Ali Kalçık said: “Some churches are still to be restored and opened. We have churches in the villages of İn and Başkale. The mosques are being built in front of the churches in Van. Hagia Sophia is not a first in this sense. They have tried to erase and destroy history since the past. We are losing our historical heritage churches in Van. Many years ago, we complained to the Provincial Directorate of Culture on this issue many times. We said, ‘It is our history, our past’ but unfortunately nothing was done.”