CHP lawmakers pay respect to fallen miners, leader reads miners’ names
ANKARAThe main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) paid its respects and apologies yesterday to the 301 miners killed last week in the Soma disaster, standing to attention as the name of each fallen worker was read out by party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
“Today is our mourning day. No word can be enough vis-à-vis the bitter truth that we have been experiencing. I can only say this: Our sacred martyrs, I apologize to your sacred souls on behalf of all the beautiful, conscientious people of the country and in the name of humanity,” Kılıçdaroğlu said during his party’s parliamentary group meeting, pledging to fight for their rights.
“We have sent our 301 people – who were working with their honor in a system of grave negligence and exploitation in a country which has the highest number of work accidents in Europe – to God’s compassion,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, before reciting famous lines from 20th-century poet Orhan Veli. “They were the ones who said, ‘Yüz karası değil, kömür karası / Böyle kazanılır ekmek parası” (Not the black sheep, but the black of the coal / That’s how you earn your bread).
Turkey’s worst ever industrial accident sparked protests across the country, directed at mine owners who are accused of ignoring safety for profit and at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government, which is seen as too close to industry bosses and insensitive in its response.
All lawmakers stood in homage while Kılıçdaroğlu read the names, with some of them bursting into tears.
No resignation on CHP’s agenda
Speaking to reporters before the group meeting, CHP Deputy Chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, the prime minister and two of his ministers – Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız and Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik – were politically responsible regarding the Soma disaster.
Tanrıkulu’s remarks came after he was reminded of a debate within the CHP, with some lawmakers arguing that they should collectively resign from Parliament in solidarity with the people of Soma after the country’s worst mining accident in its history.
“In Turkey, there is no tradition of assuming political responsibility in these kinds of weighty cases. But this should not mean that this will never happen. As a requirement of political responsibility, both of the two ministers [Yıldız and Çelik] should first of all resign. If they don’t, we will begin using other methods at the Parliament,” Tanrıkulu said. “If there is even the tiniest political honor and ethics, then the two ministers should resign. Resignation and withdrawal from the Parliament is not on our agenda.”
Another deputy chair of the CHP, Erdoğan Toprak, also said it was the AKP who should mull resignation.
“As the CHP, we will not resign, but will follow up this case,” Toprak said.
Kılıçdaroğlu, meanwhile, also voiced his sadness over the loss of the party’s Istanbul deputy Mevlüt Aslanoğlu, who passed away following a heart failure May 16.
Censure of motions underway
The co-leader of the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), Ertuğrul Kürkçü, said on May 20 his party would file censure motions against Erdoğan, Yıldız and Çelik for their failure in the coal mine disaster.
“From the very beginning of the day when the work started, the duty of Taner Yıldız who considered this slavery system as a ‘perfect enterprise’ was breaking grievances and losses into pieces in order to make them more tolerable; to disperse violence and fury directed at him via not using an aggressive style and directing it [violence and fury] against the owner of the coal mine,” Kürkçü said, addressing a parliamentary group meeting of his party.
“Not only should this mine, but all mines in Turkey, halt work until they are transformed into a shape which is in line with the norms of the ILO [International Labor Organization]. Workers’ wages should be paid from the public budget until the work is finalized. If they still want to work at the mine, workers may return after this work is complete,” he said.