Outrage: The dirty, filthy Soma massacre

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.

No!

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.”

There was no accident, disaster or tragedy. Instead, there was murder and massacre, and it was dirty and filthy. And there is outrage.

Haunts: On outrage

I cannot write about Anene Booysen. Many others are, and are doing so eloquently. But I do wonder about outrage. The national response to the horrible violence against Anene Booysen has been described as outrage. When does outrage occur?

How many women and girls must suffer violence and abuse to cross the threshold of outrage? How many men must engage in violence and abuse before the horizon of outrage is breached?

I ask this because I don’t recall outrage being expressed when both the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust and the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children faced imminent closure last year. Yes, there were individuals and groups who jumped and organized, but there was no great surge of outrage at what would surely follow the simultaneous closure of the two most successful and most important resources in the Western Cape for those seeking help, support, community in the midst of suffering violence.

Remember, Rape Crisis is the oldest center of its kind in South Africa. In a recent two-year period, it served over 5000 rape survivors. And when it served the survivors, it served their loved and loving ones, their friends, their communities, and their neighborhoods. It served the whole of South Africa, one healing empowering person at a time.

Likewise, Saartjie Baartman has been working out of Manenberg to change the world by changing the area. The Centre, open for ten years, is a one-stop service shop: 24-hour shelter, short and medium residential care, childcare, counseling, legal advice, education and mentoring, and more.

Both Rape Crisis and Saartjie Baartman have played lead roles in research, advocacy, and mobilizing around women’s rights generally. They offer a place for women to hear their own voices, to have their voices heard, to have their voices joined and amplified, to have their voices translated into action.

Both Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust and the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children are indispensable, and not only for the women and children, and men, who come in looking for help. For the entire country and beyond. Who leapt to organize when the two, in one fell swoop, faced closure? The usual suspects. Not `the nation,’ not the State, nor was Twitter alight with outrage.

Along with protests and uprisings and expressions of outrage, all of which are terrifically important, let there be outrage for the condition of those people and organizations that have worked and are working now to change the world, to transform society, to create a place in which women and children and men can live in peace and joy. Support Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust and the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children. It’s never too late. Do it now.

Dan Moshenberg dmoshenberg@gmail.com

Haunts: Indignant women and girls ignite the Chilean Winter

For two days this week, the streets of Chile filled with indignation … and indignados. These protests are the latest event in a movement that began over three months ago, with a scattered series of classroom boycotts and protests. Since then, students from secondary and tertiary institutions have led teachers and professors, parents and custodians, trade unionists and government workers in protest, in action, in song and dance, in hunger strike, in organizing. The State has responded by arresting 14,000. Already one 16-year-old has been shot and killed. And now, after waves of protest, after State-sponsored bloodshed and belligerence, the State claims it wants a dialogue.

The students began their protests to challenge and change the inequalities within the educational systems and structures, inequalities that are funded, or better de-funded, by mass privatization, on one hand, and a tax structure that sends relatively little money into the schools. Most students attend grossly underfunded public universities while the wealthy few attend the very few exclusive and exclusionary private universities. At present, Chilean university education is one of the most expensive in the world. Students assume extraordinarily high debts, with 50% of them considered heavily indebted. The schools are both expensive and lousy.

As inequality has grown in Chile, so has segregation. According to some, Chile is the second most socially segregated country in the world. The rich study – and play and live — only with the rich, the poor with the poor.

Students began to see the inequality gap as well as the increasing barriers and increasingly high walls as the State condemning them to a slow death sentence. Rather than roll over, they responded with outrage.

Women and girls lead the student movement. 23-year-old Camila Vallejo, for example, is the president of the University of Chile’s student union and the principal spokesperson for the Confederation of Chilean University Students. 18-year-old Francia Gárate is on hunger strike. So are 17-year-olds Johanna Choapa and Maura Roque. María José Zúñiga is spokeswoman for secondary school students at Liceo A-131, high school in Buin next to the capital, Santiago. Pictures and articles show innumerable unnamed women and girls on the front lines, at the bullhorns, on the various stages, in the hunger strikes.

Why are women leading the charge? For almost four decades, Chile has “manufactured modernity” by relentlessly pursuing a neoliberal economic policy: privatization, free trade, the works. And who “bears the brunt” and who literally does “the dirty work of neoliberalism” in Chile? Women. Who looks at the promises of an `emerging’ first world national economy and sees that the money goes for teargas canisters rather than books, for corporate palaces and hotels rather than classrooms? Who looks at the gap and sees who’s making those decisions? Women.

Indignant, insightful women and girls are igniting the Chilean Winter with their outrage.

Dan Moshenberg, dmoshenberg@gmail.com