AK Party gov’t: ‘Turkey has excellent work safety regulations’

It is not the time to look for a culprit in this week’s mining accident, which has killed at least 284 people, but a time to heal, and the country’s mining safety regulations are perfect, according to a spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

“This mine has been thoroughly inspected 11 times since 2009,” AK Party spokesman Hüseyin Çelik told a news conference in Ankara on Friday.

Speaking after a press conference by Soma Holding, the owner of the mine, Çelik said the company’s press conference had been chaotic. “It happened in chaos. I wish it had been a different way. Perhaps things would have become clearer,” he said.

“It is not the time to look for a culprit; we shall swathe our wounds first,” Çelik said.

He said there are no problems in Turkey’s work safety regulations. “The work health and safety law in 2012 was passed in line with the EU acquis.” He further noted: “We don’t have any loopholes regarding mines and work safety. This mine has been inspected 11 times since 2009. Earlier, three major faults had been detected and addressed. There don’t appear to be any tangible problems here,” Çelik said.

The AK Party spokesman said an investigation will bring out those responsible. “All the relevant agencies, the inspectors from the Labor Ministry, the State Inspection Board [DDK] — they will carry out investigations. Those in charge who might have caused the accident are being investigated. If there is any fault, a flaw or a mistake, or negligence, these will be detected. It is our legal debt to do what needs to be done about anybody who is at fault or has been negligent. It is our political, humane and moral debt.”

Çelik, however, noted that there will be regulation changes to protect the social and welfare rights of workers employed by firms who work as subcontractors for a main company undertaking a project. He admitted that subcontracting schemes in Turkey need to be legally restricted.

A maximum of 18 miners remained missing inside the devastated coal mine and the final death toll will be around 300, Turkey’s energy minister said Friday.

Although he did not spell it out, Taner Yıldız’s comments suggested that no one else was expected to come out alive from the mine in Soma, western Turkey.

“We believe that there are no more than 18 people inside the mine,” Yıldız told reporters. He said that was based on reports from families and data provided by the company.

Yıldız said a fire was still burning inside the mine, spreading noxious fumes, but that “it is declining.”

Grieving relatives laid their dead to rest in mass burials Thursday, with photos of their loved ones pinned to their chests and chanting the names of lost miners. More funerals were planned for Friday.
 
The minister said anyone found to have been negligent about safety at the mine can expect punishment. “We won’t take any notice of their tears,” he said.

The mining company on Friday denied any negligence and said the exact cause of the accident is still not known.

The disaster has stirred up new hostility toward Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government and thrown his presidential ambitions off stride. Blackening his reputation further, Turkish newspapers published a photograph Thursday of one of Erdoğan’s aides kicking a protester who was being held on the ground by armed police.

At Friday’s press conference, Çelik said the aide had acted in self-defense, although this could not be seen in the “one picture” that has been released on the incident.

Turkey’s Labor and Social Security Ministry said the mine had been inspected five times since 2012, most recently in March, when no safety violations were detected. But the country’s opposition party said Erdoğan’s ruling party had voted down a proposal to hold a parliamentary inquiry into several smaller accidents at mines around Soma.

About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar 39 yıllık gazeteci. Mesleğe İsveç Radyosu'nda muhabir olarak başladı, oradan TV ve yazılı basına geçti. Sırasıyla Cumhuriyet İsveç muhabirliği, BBC Türkçe Servisi'nde yapımcı-sunuculuk, Yeni Yüzyıl'da dış haberler servis şefliği, Milliyet'te editörlük yaptı. 1999 yılı başında Milliyet Okur Temsilcisi olarak, medyada kurumsal bir 'özdenetim' yapısı olan ombudsmanlığı Türkiye'ye tanıtan ve ilk uygulayan kişi oldu. Bu görevi Milliyet ardından Sabah'ta da sürdürdü. Toplam 15 yıl süren bu görevi nedeniyle dünyanın en kıdemli ve 'uzman' ombudsmanlarından biri sayılıyor. Baydar, merkezi ABD'de bulunan Dünya Medya Ombudsmanları Örgütü'nde (ONO) başkanlık ve yürütme kurulu üyeliğini de üstlendi. Türkiye'ye döndüğü 1990'lı yılların ortasından bu yana çeşitli TV kanallarında başta Soru-Cevap olmak üzere çok sayıda analiz-tartışma programını hazırlayıp sunmuş olan Baydar, düzenli olarak Süddeutsche Zeitung ve The Arab Weekly için yorumlar yazmakta. Baydar, Ocak 2014'te bir grup meslektaşı ile beraber medya bağımsızlığı ve özgürlüğü alanında çalışmalar yürütmek üzere Bağımsız Gazetecilik Platformu'nun (P24) kurucu üyeleri arasında yer aldı. 2000 yılında 'Okur Temsilcisi' olarak yaptığı çalışmalar nedeniyle Çağdaş Gazeteciler Derneği'nin (ÇGD) Özel Ödülü'ne layık bulunan Baydar, 2014 yılında da, Avrupa'nın 'Pulitzer'i sayılan Avrupa Basın Ödülü'nü (EPP) 'meslekte mükemmeliyet' tanımlamasıyla aldı. 2004'te Michigan Üniversitesi'nde Knight-Wallace Araştırma Bursu ile 'Ortadoğu, demokrasi ve medya' konulu mesleki çalışmalar yapan Baydar, 2014 sonbaharında da Harvard Üniversitesi'ne bağlı Kennedy School'da 'Shorenstein Fellow' olarak Türkiye medyasında sansürün ve mali yozlaşmanın yayılmasını ele alan uzun bir rapor yayınladı. Baydar ayrıca Guardian, El Pais, New York Times gibi gazetelere de aralıklı olarak yorum ve analiz makaleleri yazıyor.
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