Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May 2016, 12:25 GMT

Turkey: Ethnic and religious composition of the Tunceli Region and the town of Ovacik

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 22 March 2000
Citation / Document Symbol TUR33981.E
Reference 5
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Turkey: Ethnic and religious composition of the Tunceli Region and the town of Ovacik, 22 March 2000, TUR33981.E, available at: [accessed 31 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Information on ethnic or religious demographics for the Tunceli region and the town of Ovacik is scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

The Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) of the United Kingdom Home Office in its report, Turkey — Country Assessment, states that "Kurds are generally located in the marginal areas between the mainly Kurdish south-east and Turkish areas of Anatolia, concentrated in Tunceli" (1999).

David McDowall, an independent specialist on Middle Eastern affairs, in a paper commissioned for the Newfoundland Legal Aid Commission in 1994, provides the following information on the ethnic composition of the Tunceli region:

The predominantly Alevi Kurdish heartland is Tunceli province in the central east rather than far east of Turkey.  Significantly, it is the marginal zone where Turkish and Kurdish communities intermingle…Many Alevis are unsure whether they are Turkish or Kurdish, and for many the question is irrelevant since they define themselves religiously.In some cases the younger generation has disowned the 'Turkish' identity of their parents to embrace Kurdish identity.This may be either the rediscovery of genuine Kurdish origins or sometimes a conscious identification with the largest oppressed community in Turkey (May 1994, 4).

The IND report states that Tunceli "cannot be considered a purely Alevite region" (1999). Neither the IND nor McDowall makes reference to the town of Ovacik.

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 to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), Home Office, UK. September 1999. Version 4. Turkey: Country Assessment. [Accessed 10 Mar. 2000]

McDowall, David. May 1994. Briefing Note Regarding the Current Status of Alevi Kurds. (Prepared for the Newfoundland Legal Aid Commission).

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. Vol. 18, No. 1, 1998. H. Ayla Kilic. "Democratization, Human Rights and Ethnic Policies in Turkey." Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs.

Resource Centre Turkey country file.

World News Connection (WNC)

Internet sites including

American Memory

Columbia University

Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity

Keesing's Worldwide

Minorities at Risk

Republic of Turkey

Search engines including

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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