With presidential elections just three months away, Turkey’s May-13 Soma mine disaster, the country’s largest, has proven a huge political embarrassment for the government. Yet despite national protests, Ankara’s response stops short of addressing the larger issue of mine-safety.
Vowing a complete investigation into the deaths of the 301 miners, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has instead opted for arrests. Since May 18, 24 assigned prosecutors have brought criminal charges against at least five people for allegedly fatal negligence.
But the measure does not go far enough, critics complain.
“This tragedy should have crystallized a more serious response to address the huge failing in mining systems in Turkey,” declared Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior Turkey researcher for the New-York-based Human Rights Watch, after a trip to Soma, in the Aegean west. “The government needs to address this poor record of mining accidents and really make sure in the future this would not happen again and that proper inspections will be put in place for a huge overhaul of safety investigations.”
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Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.