Civilitas fundation expert and journalist Tatul Hakobyan made a statement regarding the late September visit to Van, Church of St. Cross where the Armenians are forbidden to pray and light candles.
"September 26-28, I accompanied a small group of Diaspora Armenians to Ani, Bayazet, Van, Bitlis, Mush and Kars. On September 26, Sunday, just a week after the September 19 Mass, Armenians were not allowed to say the “Lords Prayer” inside the Akhtamar Church of the Holy Cross “. The whole island and the Church were guarded by the police, who not only prohibited candle lighting, but also prayer. Belgian tourists who were visiting the Church, were surprised by the behavior of the Turkish police: When the “Lords Prayer” was interrupted by force one of the officers told us that they are instructed not to allow praying aloud, because it is a museum. The endeavor to explain that praying is not prohibited even the museum was useless.
I spread this message not to raise anti-Turkish moods, but simply to keep the Armenian pilgrims know that praying and lighting candles can only be done outside the Surb Khack Church.
To sum up, in the Cathedral of Ani were the chairman of the “Nationalist Movement Party” Devlet Bahceli has decided to utter a namaz is not guarded and one can pray or light candles freely. Church of the Holy Apostles, which years ago was turned from a museum into a mosque and almost has no visitors, is referred as Ermeni Kilisesi (the Armenian Church),” says the journalist in his statement.