Our very dignified loneliness
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” (John 8:32).
As the tragedy in Soma sinks into the very cells of this nation, we are faced with harsh reality. We are not as big as we think, we are not as rich as we think, we will never be able to bring back the lost memories of our 301 heroes. But no, they did not die in vain.
Soma showed us once and for all that greed knows no class boundaries. A mid-level subcontractor who earns about 5,000 Turkish Liras can do as much harm to his miner friends as the rich owner of the mine itself. A politically motivated labor union can betray its only reason of existence and sell out to political cronies in a village. And a political party machine can turn into a mafioso business that can establish slavery in 21st century Turkey.
For days now, workers at the Soma coal mine have been telling horror stories about how they were forced to dig out more coal, bring their own food and water into the galleries and be deprived of their lunch tickets for the sake of going to AK Party campaign rallies. They are also admitting how they took loans from banks to send their kids to school or to buy a house and that the mine was the only source of income in the area.
Such desperation that, not even one family is doing farming or animal husbandry anymore. One coal miner that died in the accident had even applied to be a professional soldier in the army simply to avoid going back to the mine. He had completed his mandatory service a month ago and was planning to go back in two months just to have a regularly paying job.
So where is all the wealth? The almighty 2023 targets? Where are the millions of tablets that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) distributed in the schools? All the free medical care? The fifth airport? The zillionth bridge and tunnel in Istanbul?
The company that is bidding to produce 5 million tablet computers for the state, Vestel, has a home base in Manisa. Has its very successful boss, Mr. Ahmet Nazif Zorlu, expressed any mission to build a tiny small cable factory perhaps in Soma? Never. So while the Zorlu Center in Istanbul is hosting millions of dollars of wealth, the land that created Vestel is perishing into the darkness of coal.
And why aren’t there international donor campaigns to help the families of the miners? Why are we left with the grimmest of traumas and nobody is hearing our cry for help? Because, the prime minister of this country, who got 45 percent of the vote, has an advisor who literally kicks victims on the ground, proudly. He himself is slapping people that protest him. He, the Grand Master, the Tall One, the savior of the poor and tired masses of the Middle East, is asking for the head of columnists that criticize him, calling them reptiles. Sadly we are on our own. Buried underground in our grief, in our desperation, in our dignified loneliness.
One of the miners related the agony his friends went through in dying in the mine. “They chewed the rocks, the pipes, the ropes simply for a breath of oxygen. They bled, cried for help,” he said on TV.
Remember this. Hell is not where we go when we die. It is where we kill the God in ourselves.
And 301 is never just a number.