Republic Day celebrations muted across Turkey over mine accident

Republic Day celebrations muted across Turkey over mine accident

Republic Day celebrations muted across Turkey over mine accident

A coal mine collapse in central Turkey cast a shadow over the Oct. 29 Republic Day celebrations in the capital Ankara. AA Photo

A coal mine collapse in the Central Anatolian province of Karaman has cast a shadow on the Oct. 29 Republic Day celebrations in the Turkish capital Ankara, as everyone desperately hopes for good news from the coal mine where 18 miners remain trapped.

“We are very sad because of the painful mine disaster in Karaman. We have not yet given up hope,”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, delivering a speech at the Hippodrome where he saluted and watched the traditional annual military parade.

“We wish to be reunited with our 18 brothers. We will continue our struggle to the last second,” added Erdoğan, who was scheduled to travel to the southern Anatolian town of Ermenek in the Karaman province, where the mine is located close to Mediterranean coast.

In his speech for Republic Day, Erdoğan underlined the “spirit of solidarity and fraternity.”

“The Republic of Turkey is the joint work of our nation; likewise, the Republic of Turkey is the republic of all 77 million people without exception. Each and every individual of the 77 million is the republic’s own child without any exception, and owns this republic equally,” he said, in the first speech he has delivered on the anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in his capacity as head of the state after being elected president in August.

“With endless thanks to our God, today, the republic has gained a structure that keeps an equal distance from all ethic roots, faiths, languages and cultures. That is to say, it has rejoined its essence and spirit,” said Erdoğan, who served as the prime minister of the current ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) from 2003 until his election as president.

“We will continue building the future with this spirit of solidarity and fraternity,” he added.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who also traveled to Ermenek after attending the ceremony at the Hippodrome, released a written message to commemorate Republic Day. His message was released late on Oct. 28, after the mine collapse in Ermenek.

“On this occasion, I vehemently condemn those who martyred our soldiers in an ambush in Hakkari,” Davutoğlu said, referring to the Oct. 25 killing of three off-duty soldiers in the southeast province of Hakkari, which is blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“Our sorrow is also great due to the labor accident that has taken place in Karaman,” Davutoğlu added, voicing hope that the miners would rejoin their families safely through rescue efforts.

Congratulatory messages for Republic Day by the leaders of both the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), also released late Oct. 28, were apparently drafted before the accident, as neither mentioned the disaster in their messages.

“We will show everybody that protecting the republic means protecting democracy, freedom, equality, fraternity, reason and science,” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in his message, underlining how the secular characteristic of the republic paved the way for “liberating the individual.”

MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli used the occasion to harshly criticize the AKP government’s policies, which he said put the future of the republic in danger.

“The 91-year-old republic is under heavy attack. Just like how a handful of elites, who were toys and slaves of foreign powers, sank our glorious empire, today, again a handful of rootless faces, who discuss disintegration with terrorist organizations, are about to target our national and unitary state in the same way,” Bahçeli said, in an unveiled reference to the government-led initiative aimed at ending the three-decade-long conflict between the PKK and security forces.

In its Republic Day message, in addition to the mine collapse, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also touched upon the advances made by Islamic State of Levant and the Iraq (ISIL) militants on Turkey’s border with Syria, noting those attacks were unfortunately targeting “our relatives, neighbors and siblings.”

The HDP also expressed regret that despite having marked its 91st year, the republican regime still does not have “a democratic, libertarian and egalitarian structure in political, social and cultural fields.”

Along with several other means, including the writing of a new Constitution, the HDP cited the “solution of all political and social problems, the Kurdish issue being in the first place, through democratic dialogue and negotiation” as a means for “developing a democratic nation and a shared homeland.”