ORHAN KEMAL – Kicking, punching and denial of Soma disaster

Kicking, punching and denial of Soma disasterThe other day we saw a photo of one of the aisers of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan kicking a citizen in Soma, where Turkey’s most devastating mine accident (or massacre) recently took place.On Wednesday another shocking video hit the Internet. In this one, Prime Minister ErdoIan allegedly punches a protestor. Alleged incidents of kicking and punching as well as all other reactions from the government indicate that they do not feel any guilt for what happened in Soma that they do not apprehend that people saw their policies as the number one culprit that they do not see that this humanitarian catastrophe was one that had long been awaited in Turkey.In the year 2010 the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architects’ Chambers (TMMOB) prepared a detailed report on the situation of the mining sector in Turkey. The report was extremely worrying and full of warnings, calling on the government to take serious precautions to prevent man-made disasters.Immediately after the Soma mine massacre, the Chamber of Electrical Engineers (EMO) visited the disaster area and shared their findings about the Soma mine with the public.When you read the TMMOB’s 2010 report and the findings of EMO’s initial report on the disaster, you can observe shocking parallels between the two.None of the TMMOB’s warnings were taken seriously or acted upon. And in this sense, it is no surprise that Turkey is the number one country in the world in terms of casualties in the mining sector.Was the TMMOB report the only warning the government didn’t take seriously? Not at all.A proposal to inspect the mines in Soma brought to Parliament by members of the main opposition Republican People’s Party CHP was rejected by a vote that was unanimous among members of the ruling party in April.One cannot help thinking that this man-made disaster could have been averted, if only this proposal had been acted on in the Parliament.When you look at the condition of the Soma mine and the mining sector in general, you get the sense that their problems and the disasters they are prone to are just part and parcel to the general atmosphere created by the ruling party. In recent years, almost the entire mining sector has been privatized. As is the case in every other sector, we do not know the specifics on how these mines were sold.It is the Prime Ministry that has the authority to license mines. Namely, the prime minister deals with the job of granting mining licenses in addition the million other tasks he has assigned himself. It means that only people who are close to governmental circles can get mining licenses. It is of course unsurprising to see that the rules for and inspections of those mines are much more lax.The government is encouraging high profits, and high profits only. The boss of the holding that runs the Soma mine has boasted about how they reduced total cost for extracting one ton of coal from $130-$140 to $23.80. When they did this, of course they reduced every single expense, including money spent on mine safety.The trade unions are weakened and the workers are seriously encouraged to refrain from being members of trade unions. As a result, neither workers nor their unions have a strong voice for their concerns about work safety. They are not capable of forcing bosses to make workplaces safer.We can raise many other factors that led to this inevitable disaster — for which the government does not see itself as responsible.

SOURCE: Today Zaman

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