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May 21, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Sandal in Huffington Post: Turkey Mine Deaths Were No Accident

Last week’s mine deaths in Turkey were “no accident,” writes Dr. Nukhet Sandal for the Huffington Post in an article headlined “No Death Is Ordinary: Soma Work Massacre in Turkey.”

Sandal, Director of War and Peace Studies and Assistant Professor of Political Science at Ohio University, is  conducting research this summer in Turkey.

Dr. Nukhet Sandal“The recent mining tragedy in Turkey has cost hundreds of lives, and the death toll is rising by every hour. Many news outlets keep reporting this incident as an ‘accident,’ unwittingly attributing a fate dimension to what has happened. Labeling this tragedy as if it was a natural occurrence is ignorance at its best. When it is done by the authorities, however, it is a crime,” writes Sandal.

“This tragedy is not an accident. It has been in the making for years, and its loud approaching footsteps concerned many activists and politicians. First of all, it is part of a bigger picture. It is no secret that Turkey has an abysmal record concerning worker security. According to a 2012 International Labor Organization (ILO) report, Turkey is the third worst in the world in worker deaths, and it has not signed ILO’s Convention No.176 on ‘Security and Health in Mines.’ Second, the mine explosions and the lack of necessary security measures have become so disconcerting that deputies of all stripes have raised the issue on multiple occasions. For example, last year, MHP (the nationalist National Action Party) deputy Erkan Akçay submitted a proposal for the establishment of a burn victim unit in Soma, Manisa due to the volume of injuries. Ayla Akat Ata, a deputy from BDP (leftist Peace and Democracy Party) submitted another inquiry drawing attention to the ‘work murders’ in Soma. Most recently, CHP (the Republican People’s Party) submitted an official request to establish a commission that would look into the frequent explosions in Soma. Last month, the opposition parties in the parliament supported this request but the ruling AK Party rejected it….

“In the Turkish case, however, it is not the attitude of business owners or even the scale of this murder that is truly terrifying. It is the reaction of the government. When crony capitalism kills hundreds of people, you expect to hear some sort of condemnation (even if insincere) from your leaders, a desire to inquire into the incident and an initiative to identify those who are responsible. When these leaders tell you to move on, describe hundreds of deaths as “ordinary” on the day of the tragedy and continue brutalizing the grieving protestors, you ask at what level of profit your own life will be expendable. The government, which shows its full might when it comes to demonstrations and student protests, does not lift its finger to inquire into the deaths of hundreds or to prevent future tragedies. Apparently, some deaths need to be ordinary for others to reign — this hypocrisy is “in the nature of the job.”

Read Sandal’s entire column in the Huffington Post.



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