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Turkey's last Armenian village fears for its future: #Reuters

Monday, 27 February, 2023, 20:30
Turkey's last Armenian village fears for its future: #Reuters

The Reuters agency referred to the Armenian-inhabited village of Vakifle, whose existence was endangered following the devastating earthquake that occurred in Turkey on February 6. In Turkey's only remaining ethnic Armenian village, Vakifli, which has elderly population and not one of them died during the devastating earthquakes that struck the region. But they fear for the future of their cherished home. 30 of the village's 40 stone houses, which are single or double storey and surrounded by orange and lemon orchards, are heavily damaged, and since a third huge earthquake hit, the 130 villagers are without power.
"Vakifli is all we have, the only Armenian village in Turkey. It is our home. Seeing it like this is breaking my heart," said Masis, a 67-year-old retired jeweler.
"This village is tiny and our children mostly prefer to live in Istanbul... This is the only home we've ever known. After this disaster, I don't know how long it will take for the village to be rebuilt. I get really scared that most people will leave and the village will be abandoned," he added. Masis, who gave only his first name, vowed to stay as long as it takes to reconstruct.

Close to the edge of the village stands the Holy Mother of God Armenian church of the 19th century. Pastor Avedis Tabasyan said the third quake had caused the most damage.

Vakifli, which has around 130 Armenian inhabitants, is located in Samandagh region of Hatay province, on the slopes of Mount Musa, Turkey. The villagers speak to each other in a local Armenian dialect, known as Moses Mountain Armenian, which is diluted with Arabic and Turkish words. They are the descendants of Musaler residents who resisted the Ottoman troops during the Armenian Genocide in 1915. After World War I, the Armenian villages around Mount Musa, including Vakifl, passed to French-mandate Syria, but in 1939, Hatay was given to Turkey, and most of the Armenians living there, about 5,000, emigrated to Lebanon. The head of the village is Perch Gartun.