Turkish-Armenian entrepreneur and scholar Sevan Nisanyan is appealing to the European Court for Human Rights to stop the demolition order on his hotels.

The Nisanyan Hotels are located in Sirince, Izmir, a village of around 600 inhabitants in the Aegean hills. Nisanyan settled there 15 years ago, and almost single-handedly turned the small village into a booming tourist spot. Nisanyan purchased and renovated many houses in Sirince, using traditional methods of building while preserving the aesthetics that are authentic to the area. He then converted them into what are known today as the Nisanyan Hotels.

Nisanyan, who was awarded the 2004 Freedom of Thought Award by the Human Rights Association of Turkey, has often voiced views that are controversial in the tightly censored Turkish society. His last comments about the Armenian Genocide, made during a Turkish television debate program, resulted in the punishment of the airing station by Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK), which claimed Nisanyan’s comments were excessively critical and “humiliated the Republic of Turkey.”

Nisanyan noted that to date, 16 criminal charges have been brought against him–all related to “unauthorized construction,” “unauthorized repair work,” and “defying government orders”– calling for a 50-year prison sentence. Five cases have concluded, serving him with a total of 10.5 years in prison. His appeals are pending.

Source: Armenian Weekly