Sinan Oğan, one of four Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputies who were referred to the party’s disciplinary board for expulsion because they disagree with party policy regarding an upcoming referendum, said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been giving arms training to shopkeepers in camps, the Sözcü daily reported on Wednesday.
“We know that shopkeepers, especially grocers, barbers, bakers and the like, have from time to time been taken to camps for arms training since the coup attempt on July 15. They [AKP] are making preparations for when they order those militias to attack the other part of society,” said Oğan in an interview with Sözcü.
Oğan’s statement came on the same day that a ruling AKP local branch representative said if the party cannot get the support of 50 percent of the people in a referendum to be held on April 16, party members should get ready for a civil war.
“If we cannot pass 50 percent and fail in the referendum, get ready for a civil war. We should know that either from among us or from outside of us, the cards will be reshuffled and the plotting will start all over again,” said Ozan Erdem, deputy head of the AKP’s Manisa provincial office, during a party gathering in Soma, in a video shared by the Cumhuriyet daily on Wednesday.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP are pursuing an aggressive propaganda policy ahead of the referendum.
“April 16 will at the same time be an answer for July 15. It will be an important move against July 15. The position of naysayers is taking sides with July 15. Nobody should derive a different meaning from this,” said President Erdoğan last week while talking about the referendum on constitutional amendments that will open the way to a switch from a parliamentary system of governance to an executive presidency.
Fears of a growing number of firearms among the people of Turkey became an issue last fall. The governor of Rize said on a TV show in October that he had issued five times more gun licenses in Rize in the last three months than he issued in Manisa province in two years there as governor.
Mayor of Ankara Melih Gökçek also said in October that an increasing number of citizens have been buying personal firearms following a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15.
“No need to keep it a secret,” Gökçek had said, going on to say that people are armed in large numbers out of fear of a second coup attempt.
Similarly in the same month the chairman of Ottoman Hearths 1453, Emin Canpolat, called on all supporters of the AKP and President Erdoğan to take up arms in the event of a second coup attempt in Turkey.
“This is an announcement to all acting with us. Take up arms for the homeland, for our flag and for Erdoğan,” Canpolat wrote on his personal Twitter account.
His message drew support from AKP trolls on Twitter, and the hashtag “AKsilahlanma” (AKarmament) was a trending topic on Twitter for many hours on Thursday.
Turkey experienced a failed coup attempt on July 15 that claimed the lives of more than 240 people and injured a thousand others.
The AKP dismissed over 22,000 military personnel and about 20,000 police officers following the coup attempt. Critics say the police and military have been gradually been put under the full control of President Erdoğan and the AKP, with the recruiting of new military and police personnel from the devoted AKP grassroots.
Regulations that task retired officers and noncommissioned officers with recruiting cadets and military personnel went into effect last month amid debates that this was a gift to SADAT A.S. International Defense Consulting, which has also been called President Erdoğan’s “secret army.”
According to new regulations based on state of emergency decree No: 678 issued on Nov. 22, 2016 by the AKP government, retired officers and noncommissioned officers are to be given the responsibilities of recruitment until Dec. 31, 2020.
SADAT was established by 23 retired officers and noncommissioned officers under the leadership of retired Brig. Gen. Adnan Tanrıverdi, who was recently appointed as an adviser to President Erdoğan, on Feb. 28, 2012.
According to columnist Abdullah Bozkurt, who calls SADAT Erdoğan’s private army, the man who Bozkurt says is still in charge, Tanrıverdi, is the point man who will reshape NATO’s largest army after the US by steering recruitment policy until 2020.