SPOT condemns Turkish government over miners’ deaths

Extracts from an appeal from SPOT (Solidarity with People of Turkey):

At least 245 coal minershave lost their lives in the western town of Soma, Turkey, after an explosion caused a pit to collapse. Dozens of miners have been injured, four of whom are in critical condition. Hundreds are still trapped underground. Soma K-mürleri AŞ privately owns the mine.

The explosion occurred during a shift change, therefore it is still unclear as to exactly how many people are still underground in the mine.

Two-faced government, greedy capitalists and their media exponents!

The declaration of three days mourning; cancellation of the prime minister’s travel plans; messages of condolence; the presence of a minister at the scene; these are all crocodile tears and attempts to hide the reality. The people have not forgotten that it was prime minister Erdogan who cried out “death is the destiny of coal miners” after a murder incident that took place in the mines a short while ago.

The “research and investigation commission” of mining risks proposed by the opposition parties CHP, MHP and BDP’s members of parliament was rejected by the AKP government just 20 days ago. Motions forwarded by the HDP Istanbul MP Levent Tuzel in relation to the coal mining industry were brushed aside with excuses such as “the relevant ministers are carrying out constant inspections”.

The recent statement made by directors of the company that owns the mine, which bragged on about reducing expenses by around 60%, also has not been forgotten. Reducing the workforce, compulsory redundancies of experienced workers, subcontracting inexperienced workers, these are just some of the tactics of the greedy bosses in pursuit of higher profit margins.

One of the workers who died was only 15 years old; this clearly expresses the extent of the exploitation that is taking place.

The media exponents of the bosses and government speak of high standards of safety within the mines and refer to the incident as a “painful accident” in their headlines. Furthermore, the value given to workers is clearly expressed in the words of an “expert” of Soma coalmines, Professor Dr Orhan Kural, who said on a TV channel: “Dying from carbon monoxide is sweet; they would feel no pain. I wish myself a painless death too”.

We the members of SPOT, Solidarity with People of Turkey, would like to express our condolences and deep sorrow for the working class, for those who died tragically and their families. We vow to expose the faces of those who are responsible for this tragedy, namely the government and the bosses who are more concerned with profit making than the welfare of the workers. We will not let all these deaths in the workplace go unnoticed. In the 12 year period of AKP rule, more than 14,000 work-related deaths have occurred. We will not ever forget them.

We call on all communities, democratic organisations and trade unions to voice their concerns on this matter and to join us in protesting to both the AKP government and those who value profit and capital more than the worker.

You can send the protest statement below to government officials in Turkey, listed below. We kindly ask that you also bcc spot.turkey@mail.com with your protest email.

  • Turkish President, Mr Abdullah Gül: Email: cumhurbaskanligi@tccb.gov.tr, Fax 0 (312) 470 24 33
  • Turkish Republic Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Email: bimer@basbakanlik.gov.tr, Fax: +90 312 422 26 69, +90 312 422 18 99
  • Turkish Republic Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources: Mr. Taner Yıldız, Email: bilgi@enerji.gov.tr Phone: +90 312 212 64 20

Should you need further information please do not hesitate to contact SPOT: spot.turkey@mail.com

Thank you in advance for your support, Oktay Sahbaz, SPOT

Model email:

The AKP government and the bosses are responsible for the coalminers’ deaths in Soma, Turkey.

Dear whom it may concern,

I, the undersigned, call on government ministers and senior officials in Turkey to launch a full independent investigation into the deaths of over 274 miners (and counting) at the privately run Soma coalmine.

I feel strongly that the deaths of the miners should not be categorised as “fate” or an “occupational hazard”.

I urge you to listen to the demands of the Turkish public and international opinion, and call to account the owners of the Soma coalmine for the highly dangerous health and safety conditions that led to the disastrous death of hundreds of miners.

In Turkey privately run coalmines regularly expose miners to hazardous and life threatening working conditions, and it is well documented that the death toll in private mines in Turkey is eleven times higher than in state-owned mines.

Furthermore, the request made to the Turkish parliament on 29 April 2014 for an enquiry into the health and safety conditions at the Soma coalmine presented an opportunity to prevent the deaths of over 245 miners on 13 May 2014.

It is clear that the lives of thousands of miners have been risked as part of cost-saving measures, with tragic consequences for miners and their families.

The Turkish government must bring to account those responsible for the brutal corporate murder of the Soma coalminers and ensure that steps are taken to improve health and safety in the mining sector with the aim of preventing such “accidents” in the future.

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