After the Turkish president passed off a fatal mine explosion as an act of fate, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Mithat Sancar hit back saying that disasters caused by poor governance were never down to bad luck.
Surrounded by rescued workers a day after the 14 October blast in the northern Bartın province, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said “we are people who believe in the plan of destiny.”
But Sancar told a conference of environmentalist parties on Sunday that the deaths of 41 miners in the blast in Bartın’s Amasra district were caused not by fate but by the policies of Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“What happened in Amasra is not an accident, what happened in Amasra is a massacre; in no way can it be seen as fate,” said HDP co-chair.
Sancar expressed his party’s grief at the blast, but also said the disaster had sparked an anger that would be “the most valuable resource” for changing Turkey.
“The party responsible for that massacre that occurred in Amasra is the government. The cartel shaped by political power, capital and bureaucracy is responsible for that massacre,” said Sancar.
Last Friday’s explosion killed at least 41 of the 110 miners working that evening.
The first reports after the blast say the likely cause was firedamp, referring to methane present in coal mines. A full investigation is set to take place.
According to the 2018 and 2019 Court of Accounts reports on the mine in question, there were 133 workplace accidents in 2017, and 112 in 2018. While 223 people were injured in these two years, 893 workers were injured in a six-year period.
The 2014 mine disaster in the western town of Soma killed 301 people and sparked widespread criticism of the AKP for ignoring years of warnings about unsafe conditions at the mine.
Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed former co-chair of the HDP shared a tweet on the issue skewering the pro-government commentators’ habit of defining workers killed in preventable workplace accidents as ‘martyrs’.
“In England and Germany, mine workers cannot reach the level of ‘martyrdom’ because there is no power there who puts the blame on fate,” the tweet said.