Responses to Information Requests

​​Responses to Information Requests (RIR) are research reports on country conditions. They are requested by IRB decision makers.

The database contains a seven-year archive of English and French RIR. Earlier RIR may be found on the European Country of Origin Information Network website​.

Please note that some RIR have attachments which are not electronically accessible here. To obtain a copy of an attachment, please e-mail us.

Related Links

13 July 2018

KAZ106139.E

Kazakhstan: The Fethullah Gülen movement (Hizmet movement), including activities and regions of operation; treatment by society and authorities; state protection (2016-July 2018)

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

For information on the Fethullah Gülen movement, including its activities and the treatment of its supporters in Turkey, see Response to Information TUR105626 of September 2016.

1. Fethullah Gülen Movement Activities in Kazakhstan

Asialyst, a francophone digital news source dedicated to Asia, indicates that the [Fethullah] Gülen movement [translation] "is very present in the educational sector of Central Asia and the Caucasus. In Kazakhstan, 29 Kazakh-Turkish high schools have been operating since the 1990s" (Asialyst 22 Oct. 2016). Similarly, in an article published on the website of the Observatory of Political Life in Turkey (Observatoire de la vie politique en Turquie) [1], Bayram Balci, the director of the Institut français d'études anatoliennes (IFEA) in Istanbul (IFEA 6 Sept. 2017), states that the [translation] "Katev educational society" [KATEV Foundation], which stems from the Gülen movement, manages around 30 schools and a private university in Kazakhstan (Balci 1 Aug. 2016). Likewise, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reports that there are 33 Turkish-Kazakh schools in Kazakhstan that were "co-founded by Gülen's Hizmet movement and his followers" (RFE/RL 18 Oct. 2016).

In an interview published on the website Matrtica.kz, a Kazakh news website, political scientist Aïdos Sarym mentions that at the end of 2014, 10,362 students were registered in Gülen-affiliated schools where 1,251 teachers were working, of whom 1,077 were Kazakh citizens and 174 were foreign teachers from various countries, including Turkey (Matritca.kz 1 Aug. 2016). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to a 2014 article written by Bayram Balci and published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a "global network of policy research centers" (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace n.d.), the Gülen network in Central Asia also includes "a number of business associations that contribute to the movement's success" (Balci 2014). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. Treatment by Society and Authorities

Asialyst reports that Turkish-Kazakh schools are [translation] "greatly appreciated" by Kazakh society (Asialyst 22 Oct. 2016). Similarly, Balci states that "[t]he quality of Gülen movement schools in [Central Asia] is widely appreciated" (Balci 4 Feb. 2014). According to Kathrin Lenz-Raymann [2], "there is evidence that Gülen schools" are "welcomed" by the government of Kazakhstan (Lenz-Raymann 2014, 237).

2.1 Situation After 2016 Coup Attempt in Turkey

For information on the treatment of supporters of the Gülen movement by the Turkish government after the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, see Response to Information Request TUR105626 of September 2016.

Sources indicate that in late July 2016, Turkey's ambassador to Kazakhstan issued a warning saying that Kazakh-Turkish schools are not supported by the Turkish government (AKIpress 1 Aug. 2016; RFE/RL 29 July 2016). Sources state that Turkey called for the closure of schools believed to be linked to the Gülen movement (The Diplomat 1 Aug. 2016; BNE IntelliNews 5 Aug. 2016). Sources indicates that the Kazakh government has refused to do so (AKIpress1 Aug. 2016; RFE/RL 13 Aug. 2016). According to sources, on 30 July 2016, the Kazakh Ministry of Education stated that the Kazakh-Turkish schools will remain (AKIpress 1 Aug. 2016; BNE IntelliNews). RFE/RL reports that, in August 2016, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev "assured" his Turkish counterpart that "a special commission comprising Turkish and Kazakh specialists would vet the schools" and that, "[s]hortly after," the Kazakh Education Minister stated that they were "'operating in strict accordance with [Kazakh] standards'" (RFE/RL 8 Oct. 2017).

In contrast, Istanbul-based newspaper Daily Sabah signals that, in 2016, the Kazakh government had shut down 27 of 30 schools affiliated with the Gülen movement (Daily Sabah 22 Aug. 2017). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Sources report that the KATEV Foundation announced that Turkish-Kazakh schools were being renamed "Bilim" (Education) Innovation [Innovative] schools (RFE/RL18 Oct. 2016; Kazinform 13 Mar. 2017; Ferghana 28 Sept. 2017). RFE/RL reports "the schools were being renamed to honor the 25th anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence" (RFE/RL18 Oct. 2017).

2.2 Teachers in Kazakh- Turkish Schools

In August 2016, sources indicated that Kazakhstan's President Nazarbayev had said that Kazakhstan wiould expel any Turkish teachers linked to Fethullah Gülen (Reuters 5 Aug. 2016; KazTAG 8 Aug. 2016). However, September 2017 sources report that President Nazarbayev had stated that Turkey's President Erdogan had asked multiple times for the extradition of employees of Turkish-Kazakh schools, but that President Nazarbayev had refused (Turkish Minute 14 Sept. 2017, Ferghana News Agency 28 Sept. 2017).

In a 2017 article, RFE/RL reports that "[l]ater" in 2016, President Nazarbayev announced that "11 Turkish teachers had been repatriated to Turkey after their role in the failed coup had been 'proven'" (RFE/RL 8 Oct. 2017). The same source provides the example of a Turkish university teacher whose visa had expired after his employer tried to extend it, and who had to leave Kazakhstan with his family (RFE/RL 8 Oct. 2017). The same source also reports that, according the same teacher, 30 to 40 Turkish teachers were unable to get visas to stay in Kazakhstan (RFE/RL 8 Oct. 2017). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Ferghana News Agency, which is based in Russia and covers news from Central Asia (Ferghana News Agency n.d.), reports that two teachers at Kazakh-Turkish schools and their families were subjected to "psychological pressure" by "the migration police and the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan," "requiring them to return to Turkey" (Ferghana 28 Sept. 2017). The same source adds that law enforcement officers visited the two teachers' homes and interviewed them at the "Department of [the] Migration Service of the Pavlodar province" (Ferghana 28 Sept. 2017). The source further adds that the two teachers "appealed to the migration police department of the Pavlodar region with a request to grant them refugee status" and that they were granted certificates of asylum seekers which provide them and their families the right to stay in Kazakhstan for up to three months while their question is being considered" (Ferghana 28 Sept. 2017). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Advocates of Silenced Turkey [3] reports that Enver Kiliç and Zabit Kişi, described as "members" of the Gülen movement, "were abducted from a plane in Kazakhstan by an unknown group of people," stating that on 16 September 2017, both men were denied access to the plane because their passports "were allegedly cancelled" (AST Dec. 2017, 2-3). Similarly, the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) [4] indicates that Turkish citizens Zabit Kişi and Enver Kiliç were reported missing by their wives and that they were "reportedly abducted from a plane by a group of unknown people in [the] Kazakh city of Almaty" (SCF 20 Oct. 2017). The Turkish-language news site Aktif Haber reports that Enver Kiliç and Zabit Kişi were [translation] "abducted" by the [Turkish] National Intelligence Agency (MIT) working in cooperation with the Kazakhstani Intelligence Agency" (Aktif Haber 16 Dec. 2017). The same source also indicates that Enver Kiliç and Zabit Kişi were deported to Turkey on 30 September 2017 (Aktif Haber 16 Dec. 2017). Corroborating information regarding the involvement of the Kazakh Intelligence Agency could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Information on treatment of Kazakh citizens affiliated with the Gülen movement could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Notes

[1] The Observatory of Political Life in Turkey (Observatoire de la vie politique turque, OVIPOT) is a research, documentation, resource and training centre that provides resources for researchers and provides analysis of Turkish political news (OVIPOT n.d.).

[2] Kathrin Lenz-Raymann is a political consultant based in Zurich, Switzerland whose research interests include social and human security, counter-terrorism policies and human rights (Lenz-Raymann 2014).

[3] Advocates of Silenced Turkey (AST) is an organization based in the United States (AST n.d.a) that aims to "address all human rights violations in Turkey [including] civil, political, economic, social and cultural" (AST n.d.b).

[4] The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) is an advocacy organization promoting the "rule of law, democracy, fundamental rights and freedoms" with a focus on Turkey (SCF n.d.). It is run by journalists "who managed national daily newspapers in Turkey for years before they were forced to leave" (SCF n.d.).

References

Advocates of Silenced Turkey (AST). December 2017. Report: "I Cannot Say We Are Absolutely Safe, Even Abroad." Report on the Current and Possible Threats Supporters of the Gulen Movement Face Abroad. [Accessed 27 June 2018]

Advocates of Silenced Turkey (AST). N.d.a. "Contact Us." [Accessed 12 July 2018]

Advocates of Silenced Turkey (AST). N.d.b. "Who We Are." [Accessed 12 July 2018]

AKIpress. 1 August 2016. "Astana Says Gulen-Linked Schools to Remain". [Accessed 25 June 2018]

Aktif Haber. 16 December 2017. "Enver Kilic and Zabit Kisi Have Also Been Abducted by the National Intelligence Agency (MIT)." Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada. [Accessed 12 July 2018]

Asialyst. 22 October 2016. Danara Ismetova. "Au Kazakhstan, Erdogan échoue dans sa lutte contre Fethullah Güllen et ses lycées." [Accessed 25 June 2018]

Balci, Bayram. 1 August 2016. "Quel avenir pour le mouvement de Gülen en Asie centrale et dans le Caucase depuis le coup d'État manqué?" Observatoire de la vie politique turque (OVIPOT). [Accessed 25 June 2018]

Balci, Bayram. 4 February 2014. "The Gülen Movement and Turkish Soft Power." Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. . [Accessed 26 June 2018]

BNE IntelliNews. 5 August 2016. Naubet Bisenov. "Kazakh Leader Heads to Turkey to Explain Decision over Gulen Schools." [Accessed 25 June 2018]

Daily Sabah. 22 August 2017. Talha Inanç. "Gülenists No Longer Welcome in Kazakhstan." [Accessed 12 July 2018]

The Diplomat. 1 August 2016. Catherine Putz. "Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan Reject Turkish Calls to Close Gülen Schools." [Accessed 22 June 2018]

Ferghana News Agency. 28 September 2017. "Two Teachers from Turkey Applied for Asylum in Kazakhstan." [Accessed 25 June 2018]

Ferghana News Agency. N.d. "Ferghana.Ru Information Agency." [Accessed 12 July 2018]

Institut français d’études anatoliennes (IFEA). 6 September 2017. "Bayram Balci." [Accessed 10 July 2018]

Kazinform. 13 March 2017. "FM Promises to Prevent Any Interference in Former Kazakh-Turkish High Schools' Activity." [Accessed 25 June 2018]

KazTAG. 8 August 2016. "Kazakhstani-Turkish Lyceums to be Checked for Ties with Gulen's Movement - Nazarbayev." [Accessed 10 July 2018]

Lenz-Raymann, Kathrin. 2014. Securitization of Islam: A Vicious Circle. Counter-Terrorism and Freedom of Religion in Central Asia. Bielefeld, Germany: Transcript Verlag.

Matritca.kz. 1 August 2016. "Erdogan's Irrational Perception of Reality is Laughable and Counterproductive." Excerpt translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada. [Accessed 25 June 2018]

Observatoire de la vie politique turque (OVIPOT). N.d. "À propos." [Accessed 10 July 2018]

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 8 October 2017. Tony Wesolowksy and Asylkhan Mamashuly. "'They'll Take Us Into Custody': Turkish Teachers in Kazakhstan Fear Going Home." [Accessed 25 June 2018]

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 18 October 2016. "Gulen-Linked Turkish Schools in Kazakhstan Being Renamed." [Accessed 25 June 2018]

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 13 August 2016. Bruce Pannier. "The Gulen Schools in Central Asia." [Accessed 10 July 2018]

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 29 July 2016. "Turkey Warns Kazakhstan Over Schools Linked to Turkish Cleric Gulen." [Accessed 11 July 2018]

Reuters. 5 August 2016. "Kazakhstan to Expel Teachers Linked with Gulen Movement: Nazarbayev." [Accessed 25 June 2018]

Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF). 20 October 2017. "Another Turkish Citizen Reportedly Abducted from Plane in Kazakhstan." [Accessed 12 July 2018]

Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF). N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 12 July 2018]

Turkish Minute. 14 September 2017. "Nazarbayev Says Kazakh-Turk Schools Belong to Kazakhstan, No Extradiction of Teachers." [Accessed 25 June 2018]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; BBC; Central Asian News Service; ecoi.net; European Union – European Asylum Support Office; Factiva; The Guardian; Human Rights Watch; Interfax.kz; Kazakhstan – Ministry of Education, Ministry of Religion and Civil Society Affairs; Kazislam; United Kingdom – Home Office; UN – Refworld, UNHCR; United States – Department of State; World Almanac of Islamism.