ASTANA -- A new organisation in Kazakhstan bears the distinction of being the first NGO in the country to fight terrorism.
The Counter-Terrorism Committee (KTK, registered as a "republican" [national] organisation), was founded by reserve officers from the security forces, KTK chairman Amanjol Urazbayev told journalists in Astana October 10.
"We all understand that even the most perfect laws will not be effective until each citizen realises that without his or her personal involvement, this struggle is doomed to failure," said Urazbayev, a National Security Committee (KNB) colonel, later in October, according to vecher.kz.
The Ministry of Justice registered the new body August 2. It is headquartered in Astana, with plans to open offices in all provincial capitals by the end of 2017, Urazbayev said.
Professionals in public service
The KNB leadership supports the initiative and is ready to co-operate, Urazbayev told Caravanserai.
Five volunteers work for the committee, of whom four, including Urazbayev, are reserve officers on security forces.
"They have extensive experience in counter-terrorism activity and in working with international organisations," Urazbyaev said.
The KTK plans to find sponsors by the end of the year to fund its work and in 2017 will compete for government contracts to provide social services, he said.
Engaging citizens in anti-terror activity
The group is finding a warm reception.
In a month, more than 160 people joined its Facebook group, "Anti-Terror Kazakhstan", Urazbayev said.
The figure shows high public interest in helping fight radicals and extremists, he said.
"We see direct contact with concerned citizens, above all with young people, as the main way to jointly ensure security in our peaceful home," he said. "We are open to any form of communication."
Working with the public is a good idea and the scope of work for counter-terrorism NGOs is broad, Arat Narmanbetov, a retired KNB colonel from Almaty, told Caravanserai.
"For example, it is necessary to work with apartment co-ops," he said. "We have a problem with extremists who rent housing without registering. The co-operatives could take this work upon themselves and get in touch with local police in case they have misgivings about odd renters."
Asanbay Boranov, 35, of Aktobe, is a new member of the "Anti-Terror Kazakhstan" group on Facebook. He supports civic initiatives, fighting against public radicalisation.
"I welcome the creation of the KTK, but ... these kind of projects cannot last long without state support," he told Caravanserai. "Without it, they will remain clubs for people with common interests. The issue of extremism, in all its forms, is very pressing and needs to be solved."
Government supports initiative
The Ministry for Religious Affairs and Civil Society supported the initiative.
"Today more than ever before, working to raise awareness among the public to prevent extremism is a high priority," Galym Shoikin, the chairman of the Committee for Religious Affairs at the ministry, told Caravanserai. "It is especially important to include a large number of civic organisations in this work, including NGOs, intellectuals from the scholarly and artistic spheres, and the country's community of veterans."
It is crucial to have as many NGOs as possible partner with government agencies, he added.