İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener claimed that civilians close to the ruling Ak party government are now getting arms training in Konya and Tokat provinces, Sözcü reported on Tuesday.

“We hear that there are arms training camps in Tokat and Konya. This must be investigated. We want to be informed about it. There are rumors that those people will be in charge during elections. They will create a mess if there are undesirable results [for the ruling party] from the elections,” Akşener told Sözcü columnist Saygı Öztürk.

“SADAT is one of those groups… Those groups will pull people into clashes. I’m warning [the government] right now. I want measures to be taken,” she added.

Akşener’s statement came after a recent controversial state of emergency decree that gives immunity to civilians who take part in thwarting coup and terror incidents. Armed civilian groups have become the center of debate after the release of state of emergency decree No. 696 on Dec. 24.

According to Article 121 of the decree regardless of an official title or duties or the lack thereof, people who played a role in the suppression of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and subsequent events and terrorist activities will be exempt from criminal liability.

Akşener claimed that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which is led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was not relaxed about the upcoming elections and aims to keep the opposition electorate from the ballot boxes by spreading news that fraud will be committed and that armed people will be present at the polling stations.

SADAT A.S. International Defense Consulting was established by 23 retired officers and noncommissioned officers under the leadership of retired Brig. Gen. Adnan Tanrıverdi on Feb. 28, 2012. In 2016, Tanrıverdi was appointed as an adviser to President Erdoğan.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in 2016 asked the government about the alleged role of SADAT in training Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) members.

The CHP slammed the government over the new decree, saying it paves the way for armed civilian gangs in Turkey.

Kerem Altıparmak, a human rights lawyer from Ankara University, underlined in a tweet that with the new decree the worst human rights violations and all kinds of crimes have been legitimized under the cover of fighting terrorism.

“If you make an innocent protest and someone kills you, he may not be punished. What else could be done to show that the state of law has ended?” said Human rights advocate Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu for new decree.

Amid reactions to the new decree, the People’s Special Forces (HÖH), which has been called a militia close to Turkish President Erdoğan by the main opposition party, announced on Dec. 29 that they will take to the streets only if Erdoğan orders them to do so.

In an interview with the Hürriyet newspaper, Fatih Kaya, the head of the HÖH, said they established their organization on Nov. 30, 2016 and have 7,000 members and 22 branches across Turkey including in İstanbul and Ankara.

About a photo taken with President Erdoğan, the HÖH chairman said: “I went there to explain to our President [Erdoğan] that we are in this kind organization. Why are some people annoyed by a photo with a person who was elected by the people?”

Denying claims that they will take to the streets to put down events like the Gezi Park protests of 2013, Kaya said: “We will not go into the streets unless amir al mu’minin [Erdoğan] orders it, like on July 15, 2016.”

Stating that they do not accept people who have photos of themselves posing with guns, about his own photo taken with ammunition and military fatigues in Syria Kaya said: “I am a public worker. I took a six-month unpaid vacation and went to Syria. I helped the Turkmens there. Everyone who goes there poses in military fatigues as I did.”

(Turkish Minute)

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