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May 14, 2014, Wednesday

Massacre in the mine: symptom of a one-man regime

Hundreds of coal miners lost their lives in Soma.

It is crystal clear that the necessary precautions were not taken by the company, which boasted that it had reduced the cost of mining from $140 per thousand tons to about $30. It is obvious that the gap stems from safety precautions at the workplace. When they ignore costly precautions, profits are inevitable. Several rescued workers told the media that bureaucrats from Ankara would call the mine one week before state inspections, and security measures would be tightened for the inspection. After the inspectors left, everything would return to normal.
It has almost been a whole day after the explosion, and the authorities are still unable to determine how many people are trapped underground waiting to be rescued. This is an open declaration of the collapse of the Turkish state as we know it. The government media -- about eight newspapers and 10 national TV channels -- has been busy trying to play down the gravity of the accident. The state news agency, the Anadolu news agency, has informed its clients about the impeccable safety measures the mining company has been taking.
Only 20 days ago, the opposition had proposed to Parliament that the same coal mine be investigated due to its unsafe working environment. A picture shows an opposition MP desperately trying to make his point on the probable dangers of the coal mine while ministers from the government are seen talking to each other and even smiling. All these point to the enormous pride of the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan government that has lost touch with reality, morality, ethics and the rule of law. That is why I call him Hobbesian-Machiavellian. He is so proud and thinks he is above the law since he is virtually the lawmaker. Remember his interior minister's phone conversation with the governor: “Go and do it. Break down the journalist's door with a sledgehammer. Even if it is a crime, we are the lawmakers and we will later decriminalize this crime!”
As we all know, the ministers are simple puppets of Erdoğan. We only need to discuss Erdoğan, who sees himself as being above the law (just like Hobbes's Leviathan), Parliament, the judiciary, the media, civil society, etc., just because he received 43 percent of the vote in the local elections. This is electoral autocracy with Hobbesian and Machiavellian logic. It is also Machiavellian as he does not hesitate to resort to lies, cheating, slander and libel and has even confessed to witch hunts.
He has destroyed the state system, checks and balances and bureaucratic mechanisms in favor of autocratic nepotism. This mine issue is a case in point. He has changed the rules so that all mining contracts and licenses are checked, negotiated and approved by him, bypassing all bureaucratic investigations and measures. Some mine owners also own media outlets, and their media outlets have been taken hostage by Erdoğan through their mines. In the Habertürk case, a nationwide news channel and also a large newspaper, owner Turgay Ciner was forced to appoint Erdoğan's man -- the infamous “Alo Fatih” -- to take care of the Habertürk media on behalf of Erdoğan, who confessed that it was his job to call “Alo Fatih” and tell him how to censor the news. In another case, the owner of Kanaltürk, Bugün TV and the Bugün newspaper, Akın İpek, did not bow to Erdoğan's censorship attempts and pressure to fire journalists, and his gold mines were later closed down by Erdoğan and were only reopened after a judicial case. These are the businessmen who had earlier been granted licenses based on merit. For the last few years, however, these tenders and licenses have been given only to Erdoğan's accomplices.
Take the mine that suffered the explosion as an example. Miners have said if you were not a member of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), you were not given a job at the mine. Some 3,000 of them were taken to Erdoğan's election rallies by force since their lunch tickets had been collected to be given to them after the rallies. Inspectors have tried to close down the mine several times due to the lack of safety measures, but politicians have come to the owner's rescue. Now, no one of sound mind believes that there will be a just and proper investigation into the accident that has cost hundreds of lives.
Such terrible things do not happen in a democracy.
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