A mine exploded in Soma yesterday. Close to 300 miners are now dead. The world media sees this as tragedy, disaster, accident. Prime Minister Erdogan sees it as just one of those “ordinary things.” It’s mining, and shit happens.
Across the country, through the haze of grief and sorrow, Turks are compelled by outrage and fury. They know. “This is not an accident, this is murder.” “We will not refer to it as an accident, we will call what happened a massacre.”
The ways of murdering miners are many. In this instance, it’s the crime of looking the other way, of refusing to inspect. For 19 years, Turkey has refused to sign the International Labor Organization’s No.176 “Security and Health in Mines Agreement”. The agreement places many responsibilities on the government and the employers. For 19 years of deteriorating mine conditions, the Turkish government said, “This can wait.”
Last year, a parliamentarian from the Republican People’s Party submitted a motion to investigate work-related accidents at the coalmines in Soma. All three opposition parties supported the proposal. However, the Justice and Development Party, Erdogan’s party, opposed the motion. Two weeks ago, it was rejected.
They knew the mine was a powder keg set to explode. But what are a few hundred miners in the big equation? And now, the keening women of Soma join the incandescent women of Marikana, in song and sorrow: “The love of my life is gone.”