Miners killed in Turkey – not accident, not faith but crime

We are very sorry to be coming back online after a while with such bad news:

157 workers were killed in the Soma coal mine in Turkey yesterday. 273 workers are still unaccounted for. They join the 270 people who died in work-related accidents in the first three months of 2014.

According to International Labor Organization (ILO) figures, Turkey ranks first in Europe and third in the world for fatal work accidents. The ILO says 18 out of 100,000 insured laborers die every year in work accidents, seven times greater than the EU average of 2.5.

Those who are fortunate enough to live hardly face brighter prospects. More than a million subcontracted workers in the private and public sector work without job security, deprived of their right to join unions and participate in collective bargaining.

Millions more work as minimum-waged labourers, making 846 TL [US$400] per month, below the official hunger limit of 1,200 TL per month.

Coal miners are expected to die in this land of cheap labour and expendable lives. “Dying,” Turkish PM Erdogan declared following a 2010 explosion that killed 30 workers at a Zonguldak mine, “is the fate of the coal miner.” “Those who enter this profession should be aware of its risks.”

Not fate. Nor accident. This is systematic murder.

http://www.turkiyenewspaper.com/Economics/4664-labor-minister-occupational-safety-poor-in-turkey.aspx

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/05/turkey-trade-union-restriction-hostility-government-labor.html

“On April 29, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) had submitted a motion to Parliament to investigate work-related accidents at the mine in Soma, only for the proposal to be rejected with votes from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).”

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/151-killed-hundreds-trapped-by-coal-mine-explosion-energy-minister.aspx?pageID=238&nID=66438&NewsCatID=341

This blogger knows at least one academic personally who have been sarning the government about occupational deaths. Coal – why coal at this day and age with such wind and solar potential in the country anyway? And how dare a PM say – as Erdogan did a few years back – that risk of death is part of mining and miners accept it when they take on the job. Even if statistically this is the case where in the job description of a PM it says “make statements based on statistics, make no attempt to change them”!

Checking the social media – some are not covering this for whatever reason, some are expressing their outrage through prayer, some are organsing demonstrations. Last year almost to the day there was a bombing in Reyhanli, which was a crucial factor in pushing at least some people to the streets, this year will Soma be the same? In the meantime, innocent people continue to die.

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The authorities cannot give a certain number as to exactly how many miners were under ground at the time of the explosion. Isn’t this enough sign that health & safety rules were not adhered to?

A tweet acount opened just to make one statement about the accident said that one worker was taken out on strecher with oxygen mask on his face, when his sister held his hand it was alreay cold, she fought her way into the ambulance, when the doors closed they pulled the mask off and covered his face with blanket. They wanted to show him as wounded to the media and people waiting, while he’d already been dead.

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The number of deaths at 157 seems to be a deliberate underestimate.

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Within half an hour of writing the above the number killed rose to 201.
http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-27403061

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http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/13/turkey-mine-blast-people-killed-trapped-rescue-operation

Apologies for typos, post written on a phone.

Live footages from protests in Istanbul and Ankara

Turkish police have staged a fresh crackdown on protests in the main cities of the country over the death of Berkin Elvan, a 15-year-old protester who was fatally injured by a teargas canister last June and died early March 11 after 269 days in a coma.

Thousands gathered in demonstrations reminiscent of the nationwide Gezi protests last summer to mourn the teenager who has since become the prime symbol of police brutality.

Elvan’s became the eighth fatal victim of the protests. Five protesters, Mehmet Ayvalıtaş, Ahmet Cömert, Ethem Sarısülük, Ali İsmail Korkmaz and Ahmet Atakan, died directly as a result of crackdowns on the Gezi protests last summer. Two others are also counted as part of the Gezi victims, including Medeni Yıldırım, who was shot during a demonstration against the building of a new gendarmerie post in Diyarbakır’s Lice district, and Hasan Ferit Gedik, a leftist protester who was murdered by drug gangs in September 2013 in the Gülsuyu neighborhood of Istanbul’s Maltepe district.

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Hurriyet Daily News

İstanbul’s historical peninsula disappearing

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The historical peninsula, İstanbul’s Old City, is like a huge outdoor museum, with thousands of artifacts and architectural masterpieces; however, it is little-by-little being destroyed by grand transportation projects, urban transformation, faulty restorations, the obliteration of the city’s identity and the expansion of touristic facilities, urbanism experts say.

Academics who convened last week at a panel discussion titled “What is Happening on the Historical Peninsula” at Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts (MSGSÜ) were in almost unanimous agreement in the belief that the historical peninsula is in danger of being wiped off the face of the earth.

Aykut Köksal, an instructor at MSGSÜ, estimated that the region will become unrecognizable given the current pace of changes. For him, the strongest intrusion in the region’s rich history is in Yenikapı, an area of the historical peninsula. The Marmaray tunnel, which connects the two sides of the Bosporus via channels for railed and wheeled vehicles, will render the region a significant center of transportation, leaving it exposed to the severe threat of also becoming more densely populated with residents, Köksal said.

Marmaray, which opened on Oct. 29, 2013, sees 40 times more people crossing the Bosporus than the Bosporus Bridge. Similarly, with the launch of the tunnel for vehicles in a few years, the region — and especially Yenikapı on the southern side of the peninsula — will not be able to handle the tide of traffic, experts warn.

Jean-François Perouse, director of the French Institute of Anatolian Studies (IFEA), says the historical peninsula has become an attractive residential center because of a number of recent projects and pieces of legislation.

9,665 registered artifacts on peninsula

Noting that legislation adopted back in 2005 has opened the gates for a flock of new residents to move to the peninsula, Perouse said projects like the Marmaray tunnel and the Haliç metro bridge over the Golden Horn make access to the peninsula much easier. He suggested that the special emphasis the people put on rulers like Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror and events like the conquest of İstanbul in 1453 creates a sense of pride among the population, pulling a large number of people to the peninsula.

The historical peninsula is included on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Cultural Heritage list and accommodates 200 varieties of real estate properties as well as 9,665 registered buildings and artifacts, such as historical mosques, churches, schools, fountains, squares and cisterns. World-famous buildings such as Mimar Sinan’s Süleymaniye Mosque, Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) and Topkapı Palace are the most significant buildings on the peninsula.

According to the Archaeological Settlements in Turkey (TAY) project, 173 structures on the peninsula date back to the Byzantine period. Engin Akyürek, an academic from İstanbul University’s Department of Art History, says if the cisterns that were found later were included on this list, the number of total Byzantine-period structures would exceed 200. “This means that the largest number of Byzantine-period structures would be located on the peninsula,” he added. Stating that 30 of those buildings are still in use, Akyürek said the churches that have survived to the present time were almost all transformed into mosques, and most of those that were not transformed were demolished over time.

İclal Dinçer from Yıldız Technical University’s Faculty of Architecture said that the basic reasons for why there are threats to the historical peninsula are activities to redevelop the coastline of Yenikapı, grand transformation projects and privatization projects.

Indicating that tourism attractions are speedily expanding from the Blue Mosque toward the surroundings of the Süleymaniye Mosque, Dinçer said the greater part of the peninsula will be transformed, particularly with the Transformation of Areas at Risk for Disaster Law No. 6306 that entered into force in 2012, adding that she is very concerned that the historical fabric of the peninsula will be seriously damaged with those transformations.

Noting that the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning is preparing a number of projects for the peninsula, Dinçer said society organizations cannot perform any kind of inspection of the ministry or municipality projects and that the decision-making process of public institutions should be more transparent.

Zeynep Eres, also from İstanbul Technical University’s Faculty of Architecture, said many artifacts and the 8,500-year-old cultural history of the peninsula will be damaged by the transformation activities taking place there. Eres said, “The unearned income [from urban transformation projects] has turned the peninsula into a cancer patient.”

Restoration of historical artifacts not professional

Pointing out that the restoration of many historical artifacts on the peninsula is not being conducted in a professional manner, Köksal said the restoration workers do not even bother to preserve the original aspects of the artifacts. Köksal said one of the most outstanding examples of bad restoration was that of Tekfur Sarayı (Palace of the Sovereign).

Akyürek says the restoration projects being conducted on 377 historical buildings in the Marmara region are not completely based on the original states of the artifacts.

As there are more than 100 restoration projects being conducted on the peninsula, Eres said that restoration should be based on the original structure of the artifacts, adding that modern tiles are used in the restoration of historical artifacts. “The uniqueness of cultural assets is damaged,” Eres stated.

Experts have also reacted strongly against the planned Avrasya tunnel. Dinçer says the tunnel will damage the whole concept of the nearby Marmaray tunnel, and that even the Marmaray engineers oppose the plans to launch such a project without first observing the consequences of the transformation of circulation created by the Marmaray tunnel. Dinçer also said that according to UNESCO, even if the tunnel is constructed, the exits should be located outside of the peninsula.

Pointing to the prevalence of shanty settlements on the peninsula, Eres says the fact that the authorities have failed to prevent those settlements from propagating on the peninsula is also one of the reasons why the silhouette of the historical peninsula is at risk.

Turkey – a failing state? – developments most peculiar

So…

You may remember the operation against corruption on 17th December 2013. It’s been widely discussed that the operation has been instigated by the followers of Fethullah Gulen against the followers of PM Erdogan. In that operation US$ 45 million was found stashed in shoe boxes in the GM of a public bank. The operation reached as close to Erdogan as possible: his son Bilal Erdogan. It stopped / was stopped there as part of the battle for power between Erdogan and Gulen.

Yesterday, a recording of phone conversations that allegedly took place between PM Erdogan and his son Bilal Erdogan on 17th December – the conversation is about how to get rid of the cash they have. The conversation is translated into English here: http://revolution-news.com/leaked-recording-turkish-pm-erdogan-instructing-son-hide-huge-sums-money/

There is no evidence that this conversation is genuine as far as we know. But as you can imagine there is a storm on the social media, and twitter reports at least two separate occasions where elderly people put their mobile phones on speaker and played the recording on public transport…difficult to censor that kind of dissemination.

The office of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said alleged leaked conversations of him discussing hidden funds are fake — a denial that was ignored by opposition leaders who called for his resignation. Read this news here:

http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-24/erdogan-resignation-demanded-by-turkish-opposition-over-tape.html

Unrelated (or related?) to this, the EU is surprised that the AKP government did not keep their promise to suspend the new law about the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors. For Turkish:

http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/siyaset/44301/AB___Hukumet_bizi_kandirdi__.html

The EU is concerned that the new arrangements for the Supreme Board will mean it is heavily under the influence of the political power – which is against the Copenhagen criteria that underlies the communication about Turkey’s membership. Funny that – promises can be ignored…a bit naive of the EU!

Developments from the US are not so naive….this article is rather worrying, especially the reminder of Iraq

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/02/officials-urge-obama-speak-out-erdogan-anti-democratic.html

In the meantime, Deputy PM Bulent Arinc was in London last week. A group of only 20 protesters were outside the Chatham House where he was speaking on Thursday…the topic, you ask? But why, of course, what he knows best: democracy…The faces of his entourage were worth seeing…so worried, so, yes, even scared, of the 20 people (who to give them credit, did make a hell of a racket)…one really has to have loads to hide, to be embarrassed about, to be so scared of 20 people.

Here is an overview of some of these recent developments from a veteran journalist, Firdevs Robinson, in her blog:

http://www.firdevstalkturkey.com/turkeys-world/turkey-in-turmoil/

We must not forget: Gezi and the following is not only (maybe even not at all) about PM Erdogan or even his party AKP. It is about basic freedoms and whoever opposes them.

Petition against internet censorship in Turkey

internet petition

On the evening of 5 February 2014, the Turkish parliament voted into law a series of measures that will tighten government control over the Internet, give it unrestricted access to users’ online activities, and increase its ability to block online content arbitrarily, without a court order. Parliament passed the measures without any broader consultation or sufficient expert input.

The law comes on the heels of countrywide anti-government protests in 2013 and amidst a high profile corruption scandal implicating senior government figures, much of which has been playing out online. The new legislation would severely restrict the dissemination of information, which the government deems to be against its interests. The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, expressed his contempt for social media on a number of occasions, calling networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook “the worst menace to society” at the height of last year’s protests.

For more info and to sign the petition, should you wish to do so: 

http://bit.ly/1eNkC8m

Related posts: 

https://translatingtaksim.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/turkish-police-fire-tear-gas-to-break-up-internet-protest/

https://translatingtaksim.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/turkey-passes-law-tightening-control-of-internet/

NOTE FROM TRANSLATING TAKSIM:

There are hundreds of petitions open, at any given time, against one thing or another in Turkey, thousands in the rest of the world. We don’t often disseminate the petition links. We wouldn’t have time to write anything else. 

However, this one is important for the existence of sites like translatingtaksim. Not only that the law may ban the access to this blog from Turkey but also make it impossible for blogs like this to be online in the country. 

Seeing the freedoms of speech and freedom of access to information are the fundamental right underlying the ability to make / contribute to / oppose any policy in any field, we are sharing this petition. 

Turkish police fire tear gas to break up Internet protest

8th Feb 2014 – (Reuters) – Police fired water cannon and teargas to disperse hundreds of people protesting in central Istanbul on Saturday against new controls on the Internet approved by parliament this week. The new powers, once approved by the president, will let authorities block web pages within hours, in what the opposition has said is part of a government bid to stifle discussion of a corruption scandal. Riot police advanced along Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue behind armoured vehicles firing water cannon at protesters, some of whom waved flags and held up placards.

Continues: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/02/08/uk-turkey-internet-protest-idUKBREA170OA20140208