Political struggles over the future of Turkey have left the country profoundly divided. Former prime minister, now president, Tayyip Erdogan, has fuelled the growing polarization through his authoritarian response to protests, his large-scale urban development projects, his religious social conservatism, and most recently, through his complicity in the Islamic State’s war against the Kurdish people in Northern Syria.
Soma, Turkey mine disaster creates widespread anger at Erdogan. Cartoon by Carlos Latuff
Hundreds of Miners Die, Turkish Government Sides with Company
May 20, 2014 / Emre Eren Korkmaz, Labor Notes
Coal miners in Soma waited for news from rescuers after the biggest workplace disaster in Turkey’s history. The prime minister has sparked renewed protests by defending the company, which had boasted of its cost-cutting business model. Photo: Hilmi Hacaloğlu (VOA).
People in Turkey are sad and angry.
At least 300 workers lost their lives in the May 13 mine accident in Soma, a small town 300 miles from Istanbul. It was the biggest workplace disaster in Turkish history.
But instead of punishing management and promising to improve safety, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has openly defended the company.
Not just in Soma but in all parts of the country, people are angry and mobilizing against the government. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has reacted with police violence, pepper gas, and water cannons.
A May 15 general strike called by several union federations was one of the biggest strikes in years. Last summer, protesters defending Istanbul’s Gezi Park against bulldozers touched off national protests against the Erdoğan regime and its pro-business agenda, with significant union participation. Continue reading →
[Capitalism kills, again. Notoriously unsafe working conditions (defended by Prime Minister Erdogan) led to an explosion and a mining industry mass murder. The miners work like slaves, their lives in constant jeopardy, while the owners-exploiters take it all to the bank. When hundreds died in this accident, and hundreds more injured, thousands gathered in grief and anger, and protests erupted and continue across Turkey. Scroll through the pictures below. — Frontlines ed.]
Anger and grief boiled over into violent protests across Turkey, as officials announced at least 274 miners died in an explosion and fire in the town of Soma – the country’s deadliest mining disaster.
Nearly 450 other miners have been rescued, the mining company said, but the fate of an unknown number of others remained unclear.
Mass graves were being dug in the town, as it prepared to bury those who were brought to the surface by nightfall, in line with Muslim tradition.
Tensions were high as hundreds of relatives and miners jostled outside the coal mine waiting for news, countered by a heavy police presence. In downtown Soma, protesters mostly in their teens and 20s faced off against riot police in front of the ruling NKP party headquarters.
The protesters smashed the party’s office windows with rocks and some in the crowd shouted that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a ‘murderer!’ and a ‘thief!’ .
And in Istanbul, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the headquarters of mine owner Soma Komur Isletmeleri A.S. , Erdogan, coal mining, Continue reading →
By Brandon Jourdan and Marianne Maeckelbergh, Global Uprisings, August 5th, 2013
This short documentary tells the story of the occupation of Gezi Park, the eviction on July 15, 2013, and the protests that have continued in the aftermath. It includes interviews with many participants and footage never before seen.
Since the end of May 2013, political unrest has swept across Turkey. In Istanbul, a large part of the central Beyoğlu district became a battle zone for three consecutive weeks with conflicts continuing afterward. So far five people have died and thousands have been injured.
The protests were initially aimed at rescuing Istanbul’s Gezi Park from being demolished as part of a large scale urban renewal project. The police used extreme force during a series of police attacks that began on May 28th 2013 and which came to a dramatic head in the early morning hours of Friday May 31st when police attacked protesters sleeping in the park.
Over the course of a few days, the police attacks grew to shocking proportions. As the images of the heavy-handed policing spread across the world, the protests quickly transformed into a popular uprising against the Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his style of authoritarian rule.