Thursday 15 May, 2014 by Uncle Spike
Almost 2 days since the coal mine fire at Soma, and we are still bringing out the bodies of our countrymen, now totalling 282, with more than 100 others missing. Soma, in the western province of Manisa, here on the Aegean coast of Turkey, is famed as a major coal producing area, with mines the predominant employer. But is this just another accident?
Turkey has another first to add to it’s list of accolades. Yes we have more journalists locked up than any other country in the world, yes our fuel is the most expensive in the world, and yes, we use more tear gas and pepper spray than any other country. But those it would seem, are not enough. We also hold the record for most worker deaths, and of those, over 3000 deaths since 1941 were miners.
“While the number of deaths per million ton of coal production is 7.22 in Turkey, it stood at 1.27 in China and 0.02 in the United States in the same year,” according to a mining sector overview report published by the Economy Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) in 2010.”
The opposition tabled a motion last year regarding safety concerns at these mines. It was rejected by parliament, which is dominated by the ruling party, just two weeks ago. Protests have occurred locally to the mine, and in some major cities about what is seen as unnecessary deaths. As is our norm for dealing with such action, the water cannons and tear gas have been in action once more on the streets.
The Prime Minister, and almost certain next President come this summer, whilst lamenting on the terrible loss of life, rejected concerns over safety, citing mining accident records from industrialised nations… from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (?). Yes, accidents happen, and yes, mining is an inherently dangerous industry; but to compare mining in the year 2014 to that of 200 years ago…? I don’t know.
My heart goes out to all those affected by this tragedy. But as a nation, will we learn, or will we still go on to hold yet more of these ‘firsts’? The initial evidence does not bode well.
A mourner/protestor at Soma ‘insulted’ the PM; one of his advisor’s wasn’t impressed…