NEW RESIDENCE LAW 'TRAUMA' FOR STUDENTS FROM ARMENIA

Hurriyet Daily News
Jan 31 2012

Some families send their children to the basement of the Armenian
Protestant Church in Gedikpa┼~_a where they receive their school
education informally. DAILY NEWS photo

Children of Armenian workers that are enrolled in Turkish minority
schools are waiting apprehensively for a new foreigners' residence
law as the new regulations could result in many foreigners being
expelled from the country.

"These kids have grown up in Turkey. This is where they received their
education. It will turn their lives upside down if they are sent
back," Karekin Barsamyan, the director of the M─▒hitaryan Private
Armenian High School in Istanbul's Ni┼~_anta┼~_─▒ neighborhood,
told the Hurriyet Daily News.

The law, which will only permit foreigners to reside in Turkey 90
days out of 180 unless they pay to obtain an insurance premium,
goes into effect tomorrow.

Sixty students from Armenia are enrolled in Armenian minority schools
across Istanbul, Barsamyan said, adding that the concept of being a
"guest student" had already led to traumatic problems for the children.

"A person who resides in Turkey for three months has to wait for
another three months before going back into Turkey again according
to the new residence law. It's possible that these kids' education
is going to be disrupted," he said.

The children were admitted into Armenian minority schools for the
2011-2012 education year by means of a special permit granted by
the Education Ministry. They receive education under the status of a
"guest student," which means they receive neither report cards nor
diplomas. Students enrolled in minority schools must hold Turkish
citizenship based on the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, while pupils are
further affected by the restrictive Armenian Schools Law that was
passed in the 1940s.

"Even though this law seems to be universal, the real target is the
people from Armenia. Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan had openly
hurled threats in 2010. The government contradicts itself. On one hand,
it grants the status of a 'guest student' to the children and says
it will enact new legal arrangements while trying to deport families
on the other," Pastor Krikor Agabaloglu of the Armenian Protestant
Church in Istanbul's Gedikpa┼~_a neighborhood told the Daily News.

Angered at the time by foreign parliaments passing motions related
to the events of 1915, Erdogan threatened in 2010 to retaliate by
deporting up to "100,000" Armenian citizens living illegally in Turkey.

Some families send their children to the basement floor of the
Armenian Protestant Church in Gedikpa┼~_a where they receive education
informally so as to avoid exposing their identities.

"Yes, those who pay 400 Turkish Liras in insurance premiums will be
able to continue residing [in Turkey] in accordance with the new law,
but almost 90 percent of those coming here are women, and the wages
they earn are too low. They cannot meet this price. As a church, we
strive to help them materially and spiritually to get them to hold
onto life. Our [means] are inadequate, however," Agabaloglu said,
adding that he condemned the new law.

All these women are university graduates who found employment in
patient care, baby-sitting and house labor to meet their families'
needs, he said. "I call on people's conscience. Do not let this law
go through."