Gov’t cannot get away with failure leading to Soma disaster: MHP leader

Gov’t cannot get away with failure leading to Soma disaster: MHP leader

Gov’t cannot get away with failure leading to Soma disaster: MHP leader

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Addressing his party at Parliament, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has criticized Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for failing to take responsibility in the Soma mine disaster.

Previously, Bahçeli had used temperate language in his criticisms in show of respect for the memory of the victims of the country’s worst industrial disaster, but has finally slammed Erdoğan and his government for its responsibility in the loss of 301 miners in the Soma mine in the western Anatolian province of Manisa.

“It should be acknowledged that Soma was a scene to incidents prompting everyone to put on their thinking caps,” Bahçeli said May 20.

“Now it’s time to investigate the disaster in Soma thoroughly; its real reasons with every detail and bring everyone responsible and all of the culprits to account without failing to act, while also mourning,” he said, indicating that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) cannot get away with its failure to appropriately inspect the coal mine in Soma.

Still, the opposition leader gave credit for the search and rescue efforts conducted by the officials and especially praised Energy Minister Taner Yıldız for his positive attitude in the aftermath of the disaster.

Dedicating almost his entire speech at his party’s parliamentary group meeting to the Soma disaster, Bahçeli also touched upon the historical significance of May 19, the day that marks the beginning of Turkey’s War of Independence. May 19 is generally celebrated as the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day. All celebrations were cancelled this year due to the tragedy in Soma, which has been shaking the entire country since May 13, when it happened.

Bahçeli, nonetheless, used this as an opportunity for direct and harsh criticism at Erdoğan for his attitude on young people in the country.

“We expect the government to focus on the youth’s problems; problems that need to be resolved urgently,” Bahçeli said.

“The prime minister should not be afraid of the youth. He should not turn a deaf ear to their fair criticism. He should stop having nightmares from the Gezi Park [unrest] and should not assume every demonstration to be a conspiracy against himself. The prime minister will not be able to go anywhere with such delusions,” he said.

Bahçeli’s warning came weeks before the first anniversary of the Gezi Park unrest. Excessive use of force by the police – encouraged by the government, which considered the incident a conspiracy directed at itself – on May 31 against peaceful protesters. The protesters were demonstrating against the destruction of Istanbul’s last downtown leafy corner – Gezi Park – and the building of a shopping mall in the form of Ottoman barracks. The demonstrations started as a sit-in at the park and led to massive anti-government protests throughout the entire country.

Of the nine people whose deaths were related to the demonstrations, one was a police officer.

“If the Turkish youth desires, no trace of Erdoğan will remain,” Bahçeli said, calling on the young people to demonstrate their reactions against the government through democratic means.

Speaking on the Soma disaster, the MHP leader argued both the prime minister and the government have been attempting to shirk their responsibility via propaganda through pro-government media.

“The responsibility for the Soma disaster lies with Soma Coal Enterprises due to failing to take the proper security measures; it is on the government for failing to conduct healthy and objective inspections; and it is also with the unions for failing to fulfill their duties in regard to protecting the lives of laborers,” Bahçeli said.