HDP commemorates miners murdered in Soma
The Peoples’ Democratic Party commemorated the Soma Massacre and said that “the Soma Massacre is still fresh in the hearts and memories of Turkey’s peoples with pain and anger.”
HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) Deputy Co-Chair in charge of Labour Commission Şaziye Köse made a written statement to mark the eighth anniversary of the Soma Massacre which claimed the lives of 301 miners as result of an explosion that hit the coal mine in Soma, province of Manisa on 13 May 2014.
The HDP statement on what was the worst mine incident in the country's history includes the following:
“Workers lose their lives every day in Turkey as in many countries of the world due to capitalists’ greed for more profit and shortcomings by the governments. The irresponsibility of employers who benefit from lack of inspection of workplaces and impunity policies pursued by the government causes deaths of workers on almost a daily basis.
The AKP's anti-labour and pro-capitalist policies led to the most catastrophic worker massacre in Soma in 2014 in the history of Turkey. Eight years ago today, we witnessed the murder of 301 miners under the ground in Soma in partnership of the government and the capital. The Soma Massacre is still fresh in the hearts and memories of Turkey’s peoples with pain and anger.
Those who caused the massacre were awarded with limited punishments. The government did not claim responsibility as always. While employers have continued exploitation, brutal and precarious working conditions, the government has continued to take sides with capitalists. During the AKP period, worker murders have tremendously increased.
We have never forgotten the miner who was one of the first survivors in Soma, who couldn't believe he was still alive when he was rescued from the underground. After hearing people applauding him, he said 'it is so nice I'm alive'. We have never forgotten the government advisor who kicked a miner with hatred. We can still hear the voice of the miner who said 'Let me take off my boots so that the stretcher does not get dirty'.
'GOVERNMENT POLICIES KILLED'
For us, the massacres of workers, especially the Soma Massacre, are not 'destiny' or 'nature'. These massacres took place as a result of policies such as subcontracting, privatization, disorganization, royalty tenders, de-unionization, inhumane working conditions and the destruction of public mining.
We have never forgotten the Soma Massacre, and we will not let it be forgotten. We commemorate the 301 miners on the eighth anniversary of the Soma Massacre. We are raising the struggle together to improve working conditions in order to avoid further worker massacres.”
On 13 May 2014, an explosion hit Soma coal mine in Manisa, causing an underground fire in the mine, which burned until May 15.
301 workers were killed and 162 were injured in what was the worst mine incident in the country's history. The trial began on 13 April 2015, and ended on 11 July 2018. There were 45 defendants and 162 injured workers as victim plaintiffs in the case.
Akhisar Heavy Penal Court sentenced Soma Coal Enterprises Inc. Board Chair Can Gürkan to 15 years in prison for "killing by negligence" and banned him from the mining business for three years.
Soma Coal Enterprises Inc. General Director Ramazan Doğru, mining engineer and Deputy Operations Manager Ismail Adalı, Operations Manager Akın Çelik and mining engineer Ertan Arsoy were handed over sentences of between 15 years to 22 years and 6 months in prison. Thirty-seven defendants, including Alp Gürkan, the owner of the company and the father of Can Gürkan, were acquitted.
Izmir Regional Court of Justice 14th Penal Chamber upheld the prison sentences for the five defendants on 19 April 2019. Can Gürkan was released from prison on the same day.
The Court of Cassation 12th Penal Chamber, however, reversed the decision on 30 September 2020. The Court ruled that Can Gürkan targeted increased production without taking the required safety measures and that he had set up a ventilation system despite knowing that there was a high risk of fire. It stated that Gürkan, Doğru Çelik and Adalı should be sentenced for "causing death by probable intent" 301 times and "causing injury by probable intent" 261 times.
All arrested defendants in the Soma case were released on 5 February 2021.