Gov’t, mine owner ‘innocent’; martyred workers declared ‘guilty’ in Soma disaster


The government and the operator of the mine in which about 300 workers died this week both denied on Friday claims of negligence in the accident in a manner which fell short of accusing the workers for the accident.

Here is another black day in a nutshell, by Today’s Zaman:

There are absolutely no loopholes in the country’s mining safety regulations,” Justice and Development Party (AK Party) spokesman Hüseyin Çelik said on Friday, shortly after the owner of Soma Holding, which operates the mine, told reporters he is not legally obliged to provide an emergency shelter inside the mines.
Turkey, along with Afghanistan and Pakistan, is one of the only three countries in the world where a shelter is not legally required.
“This mine has been thoroughly inspected 11 times since 2009,” said Çelik, who claimed it is time to “draw lessons” from the disaster and “rectify our mistakes,” not “to look for a scapegoat.”
Soma Holding Chairman Alp Gürkan also denied any negligence. After admitting that there were no emergency shelters inside the mine at the time of the disaster, Gürkan told journalists as mine owner he is not legally obliged to provide shelters.
Gürkan had said in an interview published by the Hürriyet daily two years ago that his company had reduced the costs of coal extraction from $130 dollars per ton to $23.80 after leasing the mine in 2005 from the Turkish Coal Enterprises (TKİ).
Soma Holding’s plant manager Akın Çelik also informed journalists, “It wouldn’t have mattered if there had been a shelter.” He also asked the media if they would have run toward the exit or down to seek refuge in a shelter. “I would have run up and tried to get out,” he said, indirectly claiming that the trapped miners had caused their own deaths.
In fact, the Manisa Chief Public Prosecutor had made this point hours after the accident on Tuesday. Prosecutor Durdu Kavak told journalists in the initial aftermath of the accident that whoever was responsible for the accident were already dead.
Kavak told journalists on Tuesday in initial remarks that no one had been detained and the superiors who should have been questioned had also died along with the workers.
“We have been informed that the incident occurred due to a power unit explosion. This is what we have been told but the exact cause will come out at the end of the investigation. There are no detentions as of yet. The responsible superiors who would normally be summoned to testify are also dead together with the others.”


About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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