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  Another Type of Asylum Seekers

Ilkhom Khalimzoda, Freelance researcher, Integration.lv
2017 12 01

Europe is facing mass movement of asylum seekers from various countries. This has been referred to as ‘refugee crises’ and commonly explained as a consequence of wars around the Globe.  Majority of asylum seekers in Europe are indeed running from war, terrorism, poverty, governmental oppression or in individual cases, from persecution, compulsory military service, social exclusion, and discrimination. Latvia has seen asylum seekers from many corners of the world including Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran, Ukraine, Russian Federation, and Syria as well as many other countries. This short essay aims to put light on asylum seekers from an EU candidate country which is also a member of the Council of Europe.  

Who are these people?

There is a new type of asylum seekers who are neither Syrian, Eritrean nor come from any other conventionally perceived countries of migrant departure. Since 2014, the number of Turkish asylum seekers in EU, and also in other countries, is fast growing. [1] [2] These individuals are running from mass arrest warrants that had been launched against them. Some of them have been subjected to detention or wanted by the current authorities. These people come from  the best educated, experienced, and hardworking layers of the Turkish population which had generated since 1960’s, and primarily are journalists, military officials, civil servants, school teachers, entrepreneurs, academics and many other professionals. [3]

Why are they seeking asylum?

Due to the rise of criticism against the Turkish authorities, Turkish state has been transferred to defense mode to protect the elites who have been involved in mass corruption scandals.  This policy has resulted in mass dismissals, arrests, persecutions, and shutting down of   thousands of schools, hundreds of media outlets,  and many universities as well as holdings, banks and  businesses that belonge to the critics of the current ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). According to the Amnesty International report of 2017, 55,000 people have been arrested, more than 100,000 public sector workers annihilated, and many were subject to rape and torture in jails. [4][5] Due to this ongoing mass crackdown, citizens who had been directly affected by the above mentioned incidents are trying to flee and seek asylum abroad. However, not all of them were able to flee the country as their passports had been cancelled or they face travel restrictions. Despite this fact many still try to flee the country illegally or by the help of state officials for large sums paid in cash. [6][7]

Where are they asking for asylum?

So far around thirty Turkish citizens have applied for asylum in the Baltic States, more than four hundred in Sweden, more than five hundred in Germany, more than one thousand in Japan, and many in other countries. [8][9][10] [11] [12]

Specifics of this group of asylum seekers

In most cases, they are highly educated and skilled professionals in their home society. Many of them have the experience of living aboard, and are familiar with European societies and cultures in one way or another. Within this group of asylum seekers, one can observe small but crucial differences. While majority of them have already been travelling and had lived abroad there is also a minority among who don’t have much or any earlier travel and living abroad experience which possibly resulted from confidence of living in their comfort zone back in their country and deficiency of cross-cultural interactions. From the point of acculturation, it is a disadvantage when asylum seekers are waiting to go back when the situation improves in their home country and therefore do not concentrate on learning the local language, lack motivation, and miss interaction with the host society members which impedes the integration process.

However, the majority of those with travel and living abroad experience have been noted as productive type of immigrants in their host society, and usually they speak more languages than their compatriots.  These asylum seekers are strongly motivated to start a new life, help other asylum seekers, and are committed to integrate into their new society. Many of them have already managed to find a place to work or are running their own businesses in their host societies and thus create more workplaces. [13] [14]


There are always two sides to a coin.  As communication specialist say, we need at least two sides to make the truth. We have heard a lot speculation and negativity against asylum seekers and immigrants in general. This article is an attempt to raise awareness about number of different aspects concerning the identity of the asylum seekers and the circumstances under which they seek asylum here. Such stories are perhaps a window through which understanding may arrive.


[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/05/turkish-asylum-applications-soar-in-germany/

[2] http://play24.lv/video/9517/globuss-gads-pec-turcijas-puca-kas-mainijies

[3] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36855846

[4] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/05/turkey-professional-annihilation-of-100000-public-sector-workers-in-post-coup-attempt-purge/

[5] https://turkeypurge.com

[6] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-education-idUSKCN1152DN

[7] http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/06/07/531912798/turkey-detains-chair-of-amnesty-international-turkey

[8] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3721483/Sweden-wont-return-people-linked-failed-Turkey-coup.html

[9] https://news.am/eng/news/349100.html

[10] http://www.asylumist.com/2016/08/10/asylum-for-fethullah-gulen-movement-supporters/

[11] https://turkeypurge.com/former-uetd-official-spies-on-gulen-followers-in-germany

[12] http://kuow.org/post/fearing-arrest-home-turkish-military-officers-seek-asylum-us

[13] http://www.japantimes.co.jp/tag/fethullah-gulen/

[14] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/graham-e-fuller/gulen-movement-not-cult_b_11116858.html


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