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 →
Mineworkers in South Africa are demanding better pay and working conditions. On September 12, 2012 unrest spread further throughout the platinum and gold sectors. by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
SA police halt peaceful strikers’ march
By DENIS FARRELL, Associated Press
RUSTENBURG, South Africa (AP) — South African police halted a peaceful march by striking miners without violence Sunday, a day after firing rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse illegal protesters.
Officers barricaded a main road into Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg, and persuaded some 500 miners that their march was illegal and that they should go home.
Sunday’s protesters from Anglo American Platinum mines wanted to march to Rustenburg police station to demand an end to the violence against strikers. Some carried sticks but there were none of the machetes, spears and clubs that have marked previous protests for higher wages.
On Saturday police raided hostels at Lonmin platinum mine and collected homemade weapons. They fired rubber bullets and tear gas to force people into their homes. It was the first police action since officers killed 34 miners on Aug. 16 in state violence that shocked the nation.
The strikes have shut down one gold and six platinum mines, destabilizing the country’s critical mining sector.
Saturday’s show of force follows a government vow to halt illegal protests and disarm strikers. Continue reading →
Naitonal Police troops and soliders fired on a crowd of protesters staging an occupation of the airport at Juliaca, in Peru’s conflicted southern region of Puno, leaving six dead and at least 37 injured. Protesters had succeeded in setting one of the terminals on fire when security forces started shooting. The protesters were Quechua campesinos from the neighboring province of Azángaro, who are demanding remediation of the local Río Ramis following its pollution by small-scale mining operations in the area of Ananea district, San Antonio de Putina province. The National Confederation of Communities Affected by Mining (CONACAMI) condemned the killings as “ethnocide and genocide…against the protests of the original Quechua people, defenders of life.” (La Republica, June 25; CONACAMI, Mariátegui blog, June 24)
In the south-central region of Huancavelica, protests are continuing in the fifth day of an indefinite civil strike called by the Defense Front for the Interests of Huancavelica. The strike was called to demand justice for three student protesters—including one minor—killed by the National Police June 21 during protests over budget cuts at the University of Huancavelica. Up to 100 were injured in the incident. (Mariátegui, June 24; AFP, June 22) Continue reading →