Istanbul Armenians Might Lose Control of Holy Saviour Hospital

By Asbarez | Tuesday, 03 May 2022

The Armenian community of Istanbul might lose control of the Holy Saviour—Surp Purgich—Hospital, a 188-year-old Armenian landmark in the community.

The concerns have escalated as elections for the hospital board are imminent and worries about a change in laws enacted in 2013 have create confusion.

For decades, the Surp Purgich Hospital, located in a suburb of Istanbul, has been regulated as a foundation, similar to a non-profit organization in this country.

However, in 2013, the Turkish government abolished the regulations governing the elections at foundations of national minorities, and new regulations have not been approved since then.

Bagrat Estukian, the editor-in-chief of the Istanbul-based Armenian Agos newspaper, told Armenpress that rumours have been circulating in the community that the authorities will soon introduce the new mandates, which the community believes will not solve the problem.

“Very concerning developments are taking place,” Estukian said. “It’s about the 2013 abolition of the regulation [governing foundations], which they said was taking place because a new charter was being prepared.”

He explained that the hospital board elections have been indefinitely delayed because a new charter governing elections and other administrative matters has not been drafted.

“Now there are rumours that a new charter will be introduced. Nevertheless we won’t be able to hold elections of the executive board of the hospital. This could be an attempt to seize our biggest institution. It’s about an 188-year-old institution that is considered to be a national hospital in the community. It also has an elderly care component,” Estukian said.

The Agos editor warned that if the Armenian community is unable to hold elections of the board then they could possibly “lose the hospital as an Armenian institution.”

He explained that as an institution designated as a foundation, all Armenians in Turkey may take part in board election.

“Now, if we get deprived from this right, this would mean that this isn’t an Armenian hospital anymore,” Estukian said.

The Armenian community recently organised an online petition against any charter or regulation that would potentially prevent them from taking part in the electoral process.

Estukian added that this problem concerns all other national minorities of Turkey as well.

Asked whether or not national minorities could come together and join efforts against the regulation, Estukian said there are no developments like that yet.