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Thursday, May 15, 2014

kick of ignominy ..... sad mine disaster at Soma, Turkey

The picture says it all .... a single page website of the Company in all black with obvious message of mourning .... sad to hear even !!

Even as the whole country is mourning, this picture has sparked global  outrage..... seen here is Yusuf Yerkel, one of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's aides, kicking a protester who was being held on the ground by Special Forces police officers. The incident, which has led to widespread anger on social media, occurred as Erdogan visited Soma in the wake of the coalmine tragedy.  The photograph of Yerkel was quickly circulated on Twitter, with user MarquardtA describing the scene as 'insane'

Soma mine disaster  is an underground mine fire at a coal mine in Soma, Manisa ,Turkey which is the worst mine disaster in Turkey's history. The fire reportedly  began on 13 May 2014 at a mine owned by coal producer Soma Kömür İşletmeleri A.Ş. The fire was started by an explosion suspected to have been caused by electrical equipment, an explanation doubted by some.  It occurred at a time of shift change and the numbers is being guessed with some fearing it to be very high.  Many reports put the death toll at 282 – while many are still feared trapped inside. 

Turkey is convulsed with grief and swelling anger after  the explosion at Soma, in the western province of Manisa, north of Izmir,  feared to be worser that the gas explosion in 1992 near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak that  killed 263 workers.  Rescue work is on amidst speculations of scores dead in the galleries. Unions quickly  called for a national strike.  The prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, cancelled other engagements and went to the scene of the disaster, pledging a full investigation of the causes of the accident. But he was confronted by angry people who mobbed and kicked his car, shouting "murderer!" and "thief!". As hopes for some 150 other miners trapped underground faded, the energy minister, Taner Yildiz, said rescue efforts were focusing on two areas inside the mine but that the operation was hampered by a fire. Carbon monoxide poisoning was blamed for the deaths. The government said 363 people had been rescued, including scores of injured.

This had made the entire Nation weeping even in a Nation where mining accidents have occurred frequently.  Official statistics record more than 3,000 coal miners having died in mining accidents since 1941.  Video from that network, social media messages and pictures posted to Twitter showed hundreds participating in anti-government protests in Istanbul and Ankara, with police answering in some cases with water cannons and tear gas. While not focused on mine safety, such demonstrations railing against Erdogan and his government have been commonplace in Turkey in recent months, as has the police responding with water cannons and tear gas. In the nation's capital of Ankara, some called for silent demonstration to "stand for humanity." Others left black coffins in front of the Energy Ministry and the Labor and Social Security ministry buildings. That grim symbol speaks to the sadness permeating Turkey, whatever one's political bent.

In the photo- 2  seen at the start of the post, Daily Mail reports that the  protester was being interrogated by two officers following the alleged incident when Yerkel, who was about to be driven away, ran over to him and kicked him three or four times, according to The Hurriyet Daily News. Yerkel, whose official title is Deputy Chief of the Cabinet of the Turkish Prime Minister's office, has admitted to the assault,  even as opposition party demanded an explanation for it. The prime minister's office on Thursday quickly  distanced itself from the incident, with one official saying the issue was 'his own personnel matter'.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made no secret of his desire to become Turkey's first popularly elected president. His party swept local elections in March despite a corruption scandal that forced him to dismiss four government ministers in December and later also implicated him and family members. After a corruption scandal,  Erdogan was quoted by Reuters at a rally in March saying: 'I don't understand how people of good sense could defend this Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. There are all kinds of lies there.' Erdogan has been in office since 2003 and is the chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party.

Turk-Is, Turkey's largest trade union confederation representing some 800,000 workers, joined a one-day strike by other unions to demand better conditions for workers.  Workers in the mining region of Zonguldak, obeying the strike, gathering in front of a pit but did not enter it. In Istanbul, a group chanted anti-government slogans and carried a large banner that read: 'It's not an accident, it's murder.' Anger has swept a country that has boasted a decade of rapid economic growth under Erdogan's Islamist-rooted government, but which still suffers from one of the world's worst workplace safety standards.

The Soma disaster coincides with increased pressure on miners and utilities to drastically improve safety and environmental standards in a profession that often involves a risk to life. Coal mining is responsible for more fatalities than the production of any other energy source due to poor working conditions in producing countries such as China, Turkey, South Africa, Indonesia and Colombia. Despite its poor record, coal accounts for over 40 percent of global electricity generation as coal-fired power stations are relatively cheap to build and operate.

Sad indeed
Feeling sad – S. Sampathkumar

15th May 2014.

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