Some 41 miners died in the coal mine explosion on October 14 in the Amasra District of Northern Türkiye, while six miners are fighting for their lives in the intensive care unit with serious injuries.
Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez announced on October 16 that the mine will resume its production “after the search and rescue process is finished”. If the Minister had made the decision to close the mine and ensured that necessary provisions were made following the 2019-report of the Supreme Court of Public Accounts that warns against a fireamp explosion, this accident would not have happened today, and those miners would be alive.
“Some people may take these words lightly, but we are people who believe in destiny. This will always happen,” President Tayyip Erdoğan said after his first visit to the mine on October 15.
We have heard the “fate speech” from Erdogan before. After the Zonguldak mining accident in 2010, in which 30 workers died, Erdoğan, the Prime Minister at the time, said, “This is the destiny of this profession.” Fate was also responsible for the coal accident in Soma, Manisa in 2014, where 301 workers died. “It is in the nature of this business,” he said then.
Erdoğan also told the grieving relatives of the miners: “Of course, we cannot accept these deadly accidents still occurring in our mines. We no longer want to see any deficiencies or unnecessary risks in our mines.”
These words were not uttered by CHP leader Kemal Klçdarolu, but by the President of Türkiye, who has ruled the country for the past 20 years and is responsible for the lives of all citizens.
The Court of Accounts had warned
“My brother said ‘there is a gas leak, they will blow us up here’ 10, 15 days ago. How was that neglected?” a relative of a miner asked Erdogan while he was offering his condolences on a live broadcast. Erdogan said, “My deepest condolences, May God give you patience.”
In a country where democracy works properly, the Minister of Energy could not sit in that chair for another hour.
Dönmez had visited the mine where the accident took place on September 20 and said, “Safety first”; “Let no damage be done to our workers. We cannot compensate for human life,”.
“We were here three weeks ago,” he said tearfully, at the same spot where the accident occurred.
“We said goodbye that day, but we could not keep in touch,” he added.
The minister was saying that they could not keep in touch because he knew that the mine should not be kept open for even a day without security measures taken, following the 2019 and 2020 Court of Accounts reports.
The disaster had come not silently but as a result of negligence.
CHP Zonguldak Deputy Deniz Yavuzyılmaz, in his speech to the Assembly five months ago, warned of the “risk of occupational accidents” caused not only by lack of security measures but also by insufficient personnel, based on the reports of the Court of Accounts.
The minister was aware of his mistake but was confident of Erdogan’s support.
Let alone the resignation, both the Energy Minister and General Manager of the Turkish Hard Coal Corporation (TTK), Kazım Eroğlu, whom opposition deputies called on to take occupational safety measures due to the reports of the Court of Accounts are keeping their seats, and they act as if nothing happened.
Do you think he could accuse journalists and politicians who reminded Court of Accounts reports of “disinformation” two days after the new censorship law was passed in parliament if he doesn’t think President Erdoan will support him? They had taken all the precautions, the Court of Accounts report was wrong, for them.
The TTK General Manager is also sure of his place because he is a manager who has had his share of the culture of impunity that spread like cancer to the bureaucracy and the judiciary during the AKP period. In 2013, he was sentenced to 4 years in prison for his role in the accident in which 8 workers died in the mine in Zonguldak, Kozlu, where he was the operation manager. His sentence was changed to a fine. When Berat Albayrak was the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and Fatih Dönmez was his assistant, he was appointed as the Deputy General Manager and Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2017 by procuration, in 2018 fully.
Fate or captivity in poverty?
The allegations against AKP Deputy Zehra Taşkesenlioğlu are still in place, they are not being investigated, but she happily took her place in the souvenir photograph of the censorship law. It was a sad coincidence that the first person to take advantage of the censorship law with the phrase “There is disinformation” was the director of the TTK.
They do not want this news to be published or interpreted before the 2023 elections.
Erdogan says “destiny” but adds that if the public re-elects him, he will do what he hasn’t done for 20 years and save the mines from “unnecessary risks”. Just like he said years ago, “If you choose this brother of yours, he will fix the economy.”
In these cases, especially the pro-government media gives an example of the AKP’s election victory after the 2014 disaster in Soma.
Aside from the fact that the AKP had won the previous elections in Soma by a wide margin, is it the right way to achieve political success by tying people to poverty and making them be bonded to your help?
Isn’t calling “mine deaths” fate akin to accepting poverty as a fate through the exploitation of faith?
Let’s share Cem Karaca’s song “Poverty cannot be destiny,” which was released decades ago.