“Fate” or Murder?

Erdogan-Vertrauter Yusuf Yerkel tritt am Boden liegenden Demonstranten

Hundreds of workers died due to a technical fault in a coal-mine in Turkey. The left-wing movement is calling it a “massacre”.


Soma, a little town in western turkey, has a population of about 100 and a coal mine. The latter is operated by Soma Holding, whose CEO Alp Gürkan is close to the governing AKP. The group lately implemented further savings, and praised itself for massively cheapen the price of coal. A safety-check demanded by the CHP opposition was denied a few weeks ago by Erdogans’ AKP, and so it came like it had to: after a “technical defective” up to now 298 workers are dead, but the number rises permanently and more than 100 workers are still missing. Among the dead there is a 15-year old boy who was working in the mine.


Whereas Premier Erdogan stressed that working accidents are “normal” and have always and everywhere happened: “If we look into history, 204 people died in England in 1862, 361 in 1866. Also in England 290 people died in 1894.” He wouldn’t have needed to go into England of the 19th century, his governmental time provides enough examples: On November 22nd 2003 10 workers died in Karaman-Ermenek due to a gas-explosion; on November 8th 2004 19 workers die in Kastamonu-Küre; June 2nd 2006,  Balıkesir-Dursunbey, gas-explosion: 17 dead workers, December 10th 2009 Bursa-Mustafakemalpaşa, gas-explosion, 19 workers dead. On May 17th 2010 another 30 workers die in a gas-explosion and on January 8th 2013 it’s 8 dead workers in Kozlu.


Turkey is known as a country of “accidents at work”. Union, left-wing activists, and revolutionaries see the dead as victims of a systematic “murder”.  This isn’t offbeat. The neo-liberal capital accumulation in Turkey is based on accelerated exploitation of the workers. Low wages, no rights, fucked up working conditions- it’s part of the everyday. For the company’s it simply doesn’t matter if there are accidents, they willingly take the risk as long as the profit fits.


In this respect the central slogan of the protest forming after Soma is: Kader degil, katliam. Not fate but massacre. The reaction of the Erdogan-government to the first sprouting protests was as usual: they used massive violence. Already in Soma, a village usually not known for its revolutionary spirit, clashes started after the Premier held his speech and the picture of Erdogan-conversant Yerkel kicking a mourning person has gone viral through social media. First demonstrations in Ankara and Istanbul have as always been attacked with teargas.



by Peter Schaber / lowerclassmagazine ( blog / facebook / twitter )