This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 19 May 2014 contains two articles. They may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as they are credited.
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– Turkey: A mining massacre sets off righteous fury
– Soma: How long do we have to keep burying our dead?
(English and Turkish)
Turkey: A mining massacre sets off righteous fury
19 May 2014. A World to Win News Service. The explosion that killed at least 301 coal miners in the Turkish city of Soma continues to reverberate throughout the country, not only because of the magnitude of the tragedy, but also because of the callousness and brutality of the response from the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Prime Minister’s immediate reaction was to deny that the government or the mine owners could be accused of the slightest responsibility. When 30 men were killed in a mine disaster in Zunguldak in 2010, instead of calling for safety measures, Erdogan simply declared,”Unfortunately, this industry has this in its destiny.” Now, in the face of yet another explosion, he said, “This is what happens in coal mining.” Citing figures for 19th century coal mine accidents in Britain, he concluded, “So these things happen. We do have something called work accidents.”
Echoing this sentiment, officials issued a statement indicating that if anyone was at fault, it was the miners themselves and perhaps their immediate supervisors underground. The local chief prosecutor told reporters that there was no question of bringing charges against anyone because those responsible were already dead.
Yet miners, their relatives and increasing numbers of other people knew this wasn’t true. For weeks miners in this town almost 500 kilometres south-west of Istanbul had complained that coal being hauled out was hot, a sign that fires were burning somewhere in the coal seams. When the explosion came on 13 May, 787 men were in the mine – the incoming and outgoing shifts overlapped, a safety violation meant to speed up work. A wave of heat and deadly carbon dioxide gas swept through two kilometres of tunnels, setting off fires and knocking out the elevator.
How much gas accumulated before the explosion is not known, because the mine’s carbon dioxide detectors were not in operation. According to interviews with miners reported in Today’s Zaman, management had turned them off to avoid disturbing production if the gages indicated potentially dangerous conditions. The methane gas detectors were operational, but some miners believe that management simply ignored the instrument readings. The heat and gas build-up over time should have been a signal to get miners out.
The miners were also deprived of measures to deal with the aftermath of an explosion. The roofing was made of wooden planks, not steel, increasing the risk that fires would cause tunnels to cave in. The mine was not equipped with chambers where miners could take refuge in an emergency. Survivors later pointed out that such shelters had kept miners alive after the famous 2010 gold mine collapse in Chile.
Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries that do not require owners to install such safety features. Although government officials discounted their importance, saying that no one could have survived the gas anyway, this may be just an excuse. At any rate it is a sign that the mine owners’ and government’s only plan for coping with a potential disaster was to skip safety investments and trust in God.
Worst of all, while some miners had been given gas masks with filters that automatically protect against carbon dioxide, they had been deliberately disabled, again, apparently, to prevent production delays. However, most of the masks issued were just cloth, designed to prevent inhalation of particles, with no anti-gas filters at all. It was not the explosion but gas that is said to have killed most of the miners whose bodies have been recovered. Adequate gas masks are expensive, but in German mines, for instance, it has been unthinkable to do without them.
There are “absolutely no loopholes in the country’s mining safety regulations,” said a spokesman for Erdogan’s AK party. It was pointed out that the mine had had 11 inspections over the past five years. This simply underlined government complicity with Soma Holding, the company that runs the mine. Miners said that safety inspections were always signalled in advance, to allow management to prepare, and that the government inspectors just looked at the main shafts, not side corridors and never the depths of mines.
When Erdogan went to Soma the day after the explosion, he was met by mourning family members shouting “Murderer!” and “Thief” and chanting, “Government resign!” To escape the crowd he and his entourage retreated to a supermarket entrance, where Erdogan himself slapped a miner’s relative for booing him. This was captured on video, although not the sequel, when his bodyguards proceeded to beat the man. In another incident, a close Erdogan aid was filmed kicking a man being held down on the ground by two special forces police.
After the videos went viral, Erdogan and his henchman blamed the men they beat. The mourners who heckled the prime minister were “gang members”, he said. The aid refused to apologize, because, he said, he was fed up after suffering “provocations, attacks and insults” all day.
President Abdullah Gul managed to avoid creating as much of a scene as Erdogan had, but he, too, was booed when he showed up in Soma.
Several thousand people demonstrated in Soma 16 May, some carrying signs that said, “It was no accident, it was murder.” They were attacked with water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas. The next day protesters came in coaches from all over country. Security forces set up roadblocks to stop them. Among the 30 people detained were lawyers who had come to provide legal assistance for families. They were beaten and handcuffed. District authorities said would no longer allow demonstrations.
In the city of Izmir, about a hundred kilometres to the west of Soma, thousands of demonstrators clashed with police, building barricades and fighting back with stones and fire bombs. Hundreds of people in Ankara marched from the technical university to the mine company headquarters and then the ministry of mining.
In Istanbul, police broke up a candlelight vigil. Residents banged pots and pans from windows in solidarity with the miners and demonstrators, a tactic first seen last June, when middle class neighbourhoods protested the repression against the massive demonstrations in Taksim Square. At Istanbul Technical University, students took over the mining faculty to protest links between the university and Soma Holding.
This company is owned by a family linked to Erdogan’s AKP. It is one of several big private companies that have flourished by leasing state-owned mines since the coal industry was privatized in 2004. During this time, the company reduced the cost of extracting coal from 130 dollars a tonne in 2005 to less than 24 dollars a tonne in 2012. The government buys all the coal produced.
Turkey has the world’s highest rate of fatal accidents for every tonne of coal brought out of the ground, seven miners per tonne. This is five times the death rate in China, and 361 times more than the U.S. There were 1,308 fatalities due to accidents in coal mines since 2000, and 13,000 mine accidents overall in 2013. Turkey is one of the most dangerous places in the world to work in almost any industry.
Some of the families who lost loved ones in Soma had moved there in search of work from Zonguldak, near Black Sea, after a 1992 disaster that killed 263 miners, or after the 2010 explosion there, or other closed mines. Many are former peasants driven by poverty into the arms of the many layers of subcontractors who prey on them, known as tasheron or dayibashi, village authorities, and deliver them to the mines. The Islamist AKP’s development of modern capitalism is able to draw on this traditional religious, patriarchal and feudalistic system of authority.
Cheap coal – blood coal – plays a basic role in Turkey’s economy, not only because of the economic importance of coal mining itself, but also because so much of Turkey’s other industries depend directly or indirectly on coal, and the price of Turkish coal is a factor in their competitiveness on the world market. The AKP has made coal its symbol, through the jobs the thriving industry provides, and even by giving out coal and macaroni noodles to win supporters.
This mine disaster carries the potential for exposure not only of the basically anti-people attitude that underlies its populist stance, its repressive “dark side”, but also of its “bright side”, the nature and cost of the economic growth it brags about. They are two sides of the same coin. The Soma mine was supposed to be a symbol of Turkey’s economic growth. During the Gezi Park and Taksim Square protests, the AKP bullied and bribed miners to come don their yellow safety helmets and board buses to attend demonstrations against the youth and in support of the government.
Although Erdogan cynically argues that the death of workers on a massive scale is the price England had to pay to become rich, implying that such deaths will lay the basis for Turkey to “catch up”, the truth is that the wealth of the European countries and the U.S. comes not primarily from domestic production but from the ability of monopoly capital to extract profit from countries all over the world. The plight of Turkey’s miners, like the country’s ills in general, come from Turkey’s subordinate place in the world imperialist system, including the superexploitation in the mines.
One reason, perhaps, why the Erdogan regime reacted so angrily to the protests after the mine disaster, afraid to show anything less than an iron hand even when that might be politically costly in a region whose workers have been a source of support for the AKP, is the way the miners’ cry of grief has interacted with other strands of dissent in Turkish society and the complex splits in the Turkish ruling class that have become more evident in the way that Erdogan’s rivals are trying to use this incident for their own ends. The U.S. State Department issued a criticism of Erdogan for striking the protester, a sign of trouble between the Turkish regime and the U.S., which once sought every occasion to praise it.
“Now is not the time to look for a scapegoat,” said government officials shortly after the explosion. By the next week, the government was so desperate for scapegoats that it detained several dozen mine company officials and arrested several on as yet unspecified charges.
After the rescue operations were called off, the mine entrances have been sealed with concrete, as if to close the whole affair. Some people believe that more corpses are still underground. Soma remains under lock-down, with checkpoints at entering streets and security forces on constant patrols, the kind of state of emergency measures more commonly seen in Kurdistan.
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Soma: How long do we have to keep burying our dead?
19 May 2014. A World to Win News Service.The following statement on the Soma mine disaster was prepared for distribution in English and Turkish by Ishak Baran. The Turkish version follows.
A horrendous crime has taken pace and righteous fury is sweeping the country. The sentiment of millions from Diyarbakir to Istanbul is that every single one of the guilty must be brought to justice. The people are resolute in their demand that this crime be brought completely into the light of day.
The boundless arrogance, the disregard for human life and suffering of the people, the threats and the taunts, from Tayyip and his clique, has rubbed salt into the wounds of the people.
They cannot be allowed to get away with this.
Heroes from among the miners went back to rescue others, some of them giving their lives in the process of saving others. And what did this Regime of Vicdan [“conscience”] do? What face did it show the people? They sent the police and gendarmes to “secure” the area for their official visits and contain the boiling resentment of the families and others waiting desperately for news of the rescue effort.
And how did Erdogan show himself as he claimed to be the real agent of “hizmet” [service] to the people? He dare to pronounce that these “accidents” are in the nature [using the Koranic word “fitrat”] of this line of work. When his explanation drew boos from the crowd, including many people who voted for him only weeks earlier, Erdogan, carefully protected by phalanxes of police, slapped them down. His trusted top aid viciously kicked a miner for protesting the attitude of the authorities.
When the people need to dig out the rubble and save lives, the regime sends an army of 500 imams to “sooth their souls” and consul patience instead of protest. Excruciatingly loud amplified readings of the Koran were used to drown out the painful mourning of the people and make consolation and discussion among the people themselves impossible.
They moved to oppress the people, deaden their consciousness, muffle their anger, reassert the authority of the state and army.
It is clear to millions that a regime whose top representatives behave in this fashion is revealing its true character. It has no legitimacy, it cannot hide behind the charade of its electoral victory. Its laws, its morality, its way of governing, its reaction to its own wrong-doings, all show its thoroughly rotten anti-people nature. It needs to be overthrown.
Erdogan is the face of this capitalist system and his mission is to protect it and build it up. The capitalist enterprise in the Soma mines concentrates and reveals the true workings of this brutal people-eating system. The rapid capitalist development in Turkey that Erdogan never stops boasting about, and that has been held out as a model to the people of the region, is based upon and cannot live without this kind of exploitation, the destruction of life and nature in the interests of profit. The capitalist logic compelled the authorities to ignore all of the increasingly frequent warnings signs that workers, technicians and scientists were all pointing to.
Some officials are being investigated, as a small minor concession to the people, so that the master criminals can continue to assure the functioning and further acceleration of this criminal system. While people are correct to be focusing their anger on the regime, it is important to watch out for other sections of the ruling classes and their political representatives who are trying to use the anger and the struggle of the people for their own schemes to save the capitalist system with themselves in charge.
The brutal nature of the regime, the break-neck capitalist development and the authoritarian features of the government are integrally connected to the ambitions and drive of the ruling class to obtain a bigger share and role in the region within the framework of the world imperialist system. This same process is feeding conflict and wars between and among the different reactionary forces in the region and the world imperialist powers.
Islamic ideology is playing a crucial role in this drive. It is providing coherence and legitimacy to the main section of the capitalist ruling class in Turkey and justifies its claim for a regional role. However, the opposition that is voiced to growing political Islam from the Western imperialist powers and their cohorts in Turkey must never be allowed to fool the people. They have an even greater history of crimes and an even greater blood debt to the people – from burying people alive in mines, slaughtering people in neo-colonial wars, destroying the livelihood of the peasantry in Turkey and much of the world, poisoning the environment and strangling the hopes of generations of people.
We can and must build a movement that connects the struggle to bring the criminals responsible for the Soma crime to justice with an overall struggle to overthrow the whole system. Its fundamental nature cannot be reformed. We must reject programmes that promise a more tolerable or secular version of the same thing. Everything points to the system’s completely outmoded, economic, political and ideological character. It is long past time to boldly bring forward the possibility and urgent necessity of a radically new society, socialism and communism. When political crisis starts to show itself, including around unexpected fault lines such as Gezi-Taksim and now around the mining massacre in Soma, we must seize the time, seize the hour. These battles must be fought with eyes raised to the task of building a movement committed to ready itself to finally and decisively overthrow this whole system, prepare minds and forces for revolution.
19 May 2014. Ishak Baran
(a veteran of the Maoist movement in Turkey and a supporter of Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism)
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Soma: Daha Ne Kadar Ölülerimizi Gömmeğe Devam Edeceğiz
Dehşet veren facia boyutlarında bir suç işlendi ve ülkenin bir ucundan öbürüne halk saflarında haklı bir öfke kol gezmektedir. Diyarbakır’dan İstanbul’a milyonlarca insanın micaz ve talebi bu suçun sorumlularının istinasız her birisinin tek, tek adalet önüne getirilmesidir. Bu suçun ve faillerinin tamamen ve eksiksiz olarak gün ışığına çıkartılması talebinde halk kitleleri azimli ve kararlıdır.
Tayyip ve hempalarının sınır bilmez kabadayı küstahlıkları, insan hayatı ve ızdırabına vurdumduymazlıkları ve bir de kalkıp müstehzi tehditlerle yüklü halkı hiçe sayan tavırlarıyla insanların kanayan yarasına tuz basmaktadır.
Bu yaptıklarının yanlarına kar kalmasına izin veremeyiz.
Madenciler arasında kahramanlar hiç tereddütsüz geri döndüler, içerdekileri kurtarmak için, o zor bela çıktıkları cehennem tünellerine ve bazıları hayatını verdi diğerlerini kurtarma çabasında. Ya peki bu ‘vicdan rejimi’ olma iddaasındakiler, ne yapma derdindeydiler? Hangi yüzle, ne amaçla çıktılar halkın karşına, ne sergilediler kitlelere onların bu ızdırablı gününde? Polisi jandarmayı yığdılar olay yerine, makam itibarı kurtarma telaşıyla yapılacak beylik ziyaretlerinde kendi güvenliklerini sağlama peşindeydiler; bir de, kurtarma faaliyetleri ve içerdekiler hakkında son haberlerin endişesiyle ocak girişinde bekleyen kitlelerin depreşip kaynayan öfkesini güvenlik güçleri ile dizginleyip bastırabilme derdindeydiler.
Peki millete ‘hizmet’in esas temsilcisinin kendi olduğunu başkalarına karşı iddia eden Erdoğan ne sergiledi? Bu cins kazaların bu işin ‘fıtrat’ında oldu [kasten Kuran Arapçası kullanarak]beyan etme cüretini gösterdi. Bu izahatı kitlleler tarafından yuhalanınca –ki bu insanlardan belkide birçoğu sadece birkaç hafta önce kendisine oy vermişlerdi– Erdoğan etrafındaki korumacı duvarlarına üvenerek onlara yakapaça girişti. Kendisinin en yakın müşavirlerinden birisi de yetkililerin tavrı ve yaklaşımını protesto etmek isteyen bir madenciyi iki jandarma tarafından yere mıhlanmiş halde buılup insafsizca tekmeleyi reva gördü.
Halk felaket altından kazıp insan canı kurtarma derdindeyken rejim kendi hesabına hareketle onların micazı yatıştırmak ve protesto yerine sabır telkin etmeleri amacıyla 500 adet imamı seferber etti. Kulakları sağır edecek şekile hoperlörlerden bağıttırılan Kuran metinleri ve dua okumalrıyla kitlelein ruh hali, aci feryadları ve birbirlerini teselli eden dayanışmasını sindirip bastırmaya koşuştular.
Halk kitlelrini bastırmak, bilinclerini köreltip uyuşturmak, öfkelerini boğup bastırmak, devlet ve ordunun otoritesini tekrar tesis ve teyid etmek derdindeydil
En kıdemli temsilcilerin şahsında böyle davranan bir rejim kendi gerçek niteliğinin ne olduğunu milyonarca ınsana apaçık sergilemiş oluyor. Bu rejimin bir meşrutiyeti yoktur, seçim zaferi denen orta oyunu düzenbazlığı ardına sığınamaz. Tertibi, kanunlarıyla, ahlakıyla, hükümet olma ve yönetim tarzıyla, kend suç ve hatalarına yaklaşımıyla, bunların tümü ve herbir tekiyle bu rejim kendisinin baştan aşağı, iliğine dek kokuşmuş , halk düşmanı niteliğini ortaya dökmüştür.
Devrilmesi, bertaraf edilmesi gereklidir.
Erdoğan bu kapütalist düzenin çehresidir, misyonu bu sistemin muhafazası ve daha da geliştirilmesidir. Soma madenlerindeki kapitalist işletme(ler) bu düzenin insan tüketen vahşi işleyişinin gerçeklerini sergiliyor ve onların yoğun ifadesi durumundadır. Erdoğan’ın her fırsatta kasılarak övündüğü Türkiye’de hasıl olan ve bölge halklarına da model olarak sunulan hızlı kapitalist gelişme işte bu tür sömürü, insan hayatı ve tabii çevrenin kar uğruna böylesi mahvedilmesi temelinde sağlanmaktadır ve ve bunsuz devam ettirilmesi de mümkün değildir. Soma’daki insan kıyımı öncesinde maden işçilerinin ve teknisyenlerin ve dışardan diğer ilgi uzmanların ve gözlemcilerin yaptığı ve giderek sıklaşan uyarılara ve endişelere otorite sahiplerinin kulak ardı edip bilmezlikten gelmeleri, kapitalist üretim mantığının getirdiği güdü ve mecburiyetlerden kaynaklıdır.
Alt düzeyden sorumlular ve yöneticileden bazıları şimdi soruşturma altıda veya tutukludur, ki böylelikle halka yatıştırmak amacıyla küçük bir taviz verme yoluyla suç şebekelerinin ağababaları, ustaları bu suç düzeninin işleyişine devamı ve daha da hızlandırılmasını güvence altına alabilsinler. Halkın öfkesinin bu rejimi odaklayıp hedef almasının doğru olmasına rağmen, şunun da hic gözden kaçırılmaması gerekir ki hakim sınıfların diğer kesimleri ve onların siyasi temsilcileri halkın öfkesi ve mücadelesini kendi tezgahladıkları oyunlara alet ederek bu kapitalist düzeni kendi yönetimleri altında muhafaza etmek istiyorlar.
Bu rejimin merhaametsiz hoyratlıkları, dolu dizgin kapitalist gelişme güdüsü ve de hükümetin artan otoriter hususiyetleri, hakim sınıfın emperyalist dünya düzeninin yapılandırmaları çerçevesinde bu bölgede daha büyük bir pay ve rol elde etme hülyaları ve dürtüsünün entegral öğeleridir. Bu sürecin kendisi bölgedeki farklı gerici güçler içinde ve arasında ve dünya emperyalistleri arasında çatışmaları kızıştırmaya ve savaşaları körüklenmesine malzeme temin etmekteir.
İslam ideolojisi hakim sınıfın bu süreç güdüşünde canalıcı role sahiptir, Türkiye hakim sınıfının bir ana kesimine bütünlestirici, bünye oluşturucu ve meşru’luk temin edici bir rol oynuyor ve bölgedeki emellerini de gerekçelendirmeğe hizmet ediyor. Ne var ki, güçlenmekte olan siyasi Islam’a karşı Batılı emperyalistler ve onların Türkiye’deki işbirlikçileri tarafından seslendirilen karşıtlık ve muhalefetin kitleleri aldatmasına kesinlikle imkan verilmemelidir.Onların halklara karşı işledikleri suçların tarihiçesi ve halklara olan kan borcu çok daha yüklü ve ağırdır –insanları köle emeği için canlı canlı madenlere gömeten, yeni-sömürgecilik savaşlarında kıyımdan geçirmeğe, Turkiye dahil dünyanın dörtbir yanında köylülüğün yaşam ve geçim koşullarını mahvetmekten, çevreyi zehirleyip nesiller boyu insanlığın ufuklarını geleceğe doğru karartmaya dek, onların suç daha da yüklüüdür.
Soma’ da işlenen suçların sorumluları ve faillerinin adalet karşısına çıkarılması için micadelenin bu düzeni devirmek için gerekli olan mücadele ye canlı bağını tesis edece bir hareket inşa edebliriz ve bunun inşası gereklidir. Bu düzenin temel niteiğini reformlarla ihya etmek mümkün değildir. Aynı şeyin daha tahmmüle gelir ve bir seküler devşirmesini vaat eden programlar reddedilmelidir. Herşey bu düzenin miyadını iktisadi, siyas ve ideololik açıdan çoktan doldurmuş olduğuna işaret etmektedir. Kökten farklı nitelikte bir toplumsal düzenin , sosyalizm ve communizmin gerçekleştirilmesinin imkanlar dahilinde ve kendisini şiddetle hissettiren bir ihtiyaç olduğunu ortaya konmasının vakti çoktan gelmiştir. Gezi-Taksim direnişlerinde, şimdi de Soma’daki kıyıma karşı şekillenen fay hattları etrafında olduğu gibi siyasi kriz mayalanmaya başlar başlamaz, zamana ve güne hükmümüzü geçirmek üzere harekete geçmeliyiz . Siyasi muhabereler zihinleri ve güçleri devrime hazırlayacak tarzda, insanların görüş zaviyesini bu sistemi nihayetinde toptan devirmeye muktedir ve buna azmetmişbir hareket inşa etme görevine yükseltecek nitelikte yürütülmelidir,
19 Mayıs 2014
(Türkiye’deki Maoist hareketin aktivistelerinden ve Bob Avakian’ın ortaya koyduğu komünism yeni sentezinin bir savunucusu)