Nothing else we can do now but cite surah al-Fatihah

Nothing else we can do now but cite surah al-Fatihah

We have two rows of empty graves ahead of us… They have been freshly dug. There is another one being dug a bit further. Then another one…

They are burying a father and son.

An attendant at the entrance of the cemetery is highlighting the name list he holds in his hand with yellow and orange. Those arriving are yellow, those buried, orange.

We walk further on…

As we walk, all of the galleries inside us crash, all the pit props of our system collapse…

We read the names at the newly-dug graves: One has a last name Güney, the other Göktürk. I cannot read any more.

Far away, there is a father holding a tree, just standing there.

We are walking between two rows of graves. Three steps ahead, they are lowering a child born in 1981 into the grave.

We stop. I tell my colleagues Ayçe, İsmet and Deniz: “Come friends, let’s say our prayers; let’s cite surah al-Fatihah. There is nothing else we can do…”

We stand alongside a grave we do not know the name of. We say our prayers. For the unknown miner who lived under the ground most of his life and who has gone back underground now.

‘It is new for you’

The Soma cemetery is 18 hectares. It is so big that it goes all the way into the city. The town seems like it is inside of a cemetery. Ercan is telling us, “You are only seeing this pain now; it is new to you.

Every month, one or two miners die. They are buried quietly. Nobody says anything, does not raise a voice, so that the remaining workers do not lose their jobs…”

When you look at the cemetery, it is better understood.

The Soma cemetery looks as if it is bigger than the town.

Further on, men who dig the underground here lie under the ground.

Hey there, Kemal Türkler

Whoever I speak to in Soma, they say, “trade union…”

As mines were transferred to the private sector, the unions have shrunk. 

Do you know how they define the union? “Ivy without roots,” because it does not have any influence.

While I was staring at the “unknown miner” statue at the Soma town square, I remembered: Once upon a time, there was the Maden-İş of DİSK… They always carried the unforgettable banner of May 1 parades. They were the most populous worker organization: Maden-İş…  

And the unforgettable name of the Turkish labor movement, Kemal Türkler… I don’t know whether it was the deep state or a fascist power, but they shot him…

Then, Sept. 12, 1980 went past like a cylinder over trade unions.

Now, I am looking at those Maden-İş days through the bodies of 283 miners. Once more I understand that a trade union is not only a wage and strike bargaining organization. It is the culture of being a worker… It is where the worker finds his/her personality.

These have happened after destroying the unions and leaving their place to company unions…

I have seen that miners in Soma have been turned into poor individuals afraid of losing their jobs instead of the culture of being a worker.

The faces of the miners I saw in Soma’s streets were droopy, their necks bent, their shoulders stooped… They have surrendered with fear, a fear dominated by thoughts of fate…  

When the mentality that declares “Workers cannot be statesmen” dried up the trade unions, then politics went underground for the workers.

Hey, Kemal Türkler, your workers are coming to you… Take care of them…

Soma youth

While prayers are cited at the cemetery, young people gather at the miner monument at the Soma town square. They wear orange hats on their heads, as if they were protesting their future. They do not talk, do not chant slogans, they do not march.

They just keep quiet. Keep silent. And stand there just like that. In Soma, young people cry for their future under the ground. Yes, right now, we can do nothing else but cite surah al-Fatihah.  Well, what about later?

We will write about it. We will write about it to the core.

We will write about ways to live like a human being.