March 17, 2015

Whistleblower Fuat Avni: Gov’t to plant weapons in Hizmet buildings to declare it terrorist group

A government whistleblower who tweets under the pseudonym Fuat Avni has alleged that the government is planning to plant weapons and ammunition in houses and buildings used by followers of the Hizmet movement in order to declare the movement a terrorist organization ahead of the upcoming general election.

The Hizmet movement, or Gülen movement, is a civil society organization inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

Avni, who claims to be in the inner circle of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, wrote on his Twitter account on Monday evening that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government is organizing a plot targeting the Hizmet movement, against which Erdoğan and the government have been fighting ever since a major corruption and bribery investigation became public on Dec. 17, 2013. Erdoğan and the AK Party have accused the movement of being behind the Dec. 17 investigation, which implicated four Cabinet ministers, top-level bureaucrats and pro-government businessmen.

The whistleblower also claimed in the tweets posted that following the January shooting of 12-year-old Nihat Kazanhan in the southeastern province of Şırnak, the government decided to frame the movement as a terrorist organization responsible for the death. Avni claimed that Erdoğan was angry when the plot failed after a Fox TV news program released security camera footage revealing that Kazanhan was shot by a police officer. Video footage of the incident was played on a Fox TV news broadcast on the evening of Jan. 28, showing second-by-second frames of Kazanhan being shot in the head and falling to the ground.

Kazanhan was shot on Jan. 14 when tensions flared in Şırnak's Cizre district. He later died from his wounds. Avni claimed on Monday evening that after the killing, ex-Interior Minister Efkan Ala designed a plot to blame the Hizmet movement for the killing. Avni alleges that before the video came to public attention, the government was trying to hide any evidence of the killing so as to be able to blame Hizmet.

Speaking on TV on Jan. 14, Ala denied that the police were responsible for Kazanhan's death. “Today, the police were not involved, neither with guns nor tear gas. Despite this, one of our children died. We will launch a serious investigation into this.”

Speaking on Jan. 15, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Kazanhan had not been killed by the police. However, after the footage was released, the Interior Ministry backtracked and on Jan. 20, admitted that a provincial police officer could be responsible for the killing.

H.V., an officer from the Mardin Police Department who was detained in February as a suspect in the incident, told the prosecutor interrogating him that his colleague -- special operations officer M.N.G. -- shot the 12-year-old and then buried the gun he used in the yard of a police station.

Published on Today's Zaman, 17 March 2015, Tuesday