Turkish PM Erdoğan slams media, hints at more efficient inspection of mines

Turkish PM Erdoğan slams media, hints at more efficient inspection of mines

Turkish PM Erdoğan slams media, hints at more efficient inspection of mines

A monitor shows a graphic designed after the disaster in Soma as Prime Minister Erdoğan takes the rostrum, May 20. AA Photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed to increase the frequency of inspections in mines and take every measure to avoid future fatal accidents but also slammed government critics and media over last week’s coal mine tragedy that claimed the lives of 301 workers in Soma.

“As there is no body left inside the mine, it’s time to speak about these things in detail. As I already said right in the aftermath of the accident, no one can cover up this incident. Administrative and judicial investigations are being carried out,” Erdoğan told his lawmakers at a parliamentary group on May 20, adding that whoever is responsible would be brought to justice.

Erdoğan said all relevant institutions, the private sector and trade unions, as well as the government itself, would draw lessons from the accident, saying: “On our part, we’ll be much more determined to take necessary steps and increase the frequency of inspections. I am also sure that the private sector and trade unions will also take their own lessons to this end.”

The prime minister said the Cabinet would convene May 21 to specifically discuss the Soma accident and the steps the government was considering to both heal the wounds and avoid similar accidents in the future.

“I have given instructions so that these 301 workers can be counted legally as ‘martyrs.’ Our Family and Social Policies Ministry will do the necessary works, we’ll evaluate this in the Cabinet meeting and we’ll take adequate steps,” Erdoğan said.

The prime minister said a team composed by four ministries, the energy, family, social security and health departments, would conduct a study to identify the specific needs and demands of the families of the Soma accident victims.

“Turkey is a great state and the Turkish nation is a great nation. Together, we’ll overcome these difficult days. Those who suffer together can make a nation,” he said.  

Erdoğan responds to reactions

In his address to lawmakers, Erdoğan also responded to criticism and allegations made on social media and regular media. Arguing that some had attempted to use the disaster for their political and ideological gains, Erdoğan described the level of such groups as “lower than the most inferior.”

“From the very first moment [after the accident], lies that could not even be imagined even in dreams started to spread. What are they? ‘There were more workers than was said; the reason for the accident was this and that; the owner of the mine was a member of the AK Party; a 15-year-old worker was among the dead; and even that 120 Syrian workers were among the workers and that concrete was poured on them so that they would not be able to be found,’” Erdoğan said. “In fact, it’s your conscience on which the concrete was poured.”

Erdoğan also criticized the media for “distorting” the realities of the Soma tragedy while expressing his appreciation for those who covered the accident responsibly. Citing controversial remarks made since the accident in Soma, Erdoğan accused several critical newspaper columnists of trying to undermine the government along with the Gülenists.

The foreign media was also slammed by Erdoğan, who indirectly criticized the BBC without mentioning its name.

"An international television station's correspondent in Turkey went [to Soma] and found players, making them play the part of so-called miners' relatives. They then service it to the whole world," he said, accusing "opportunists [in Turkey] who report lies and slanders to the international media." 

BBC Turkish editor Murat Nişancıoğlu had stood behind the report posted in the aftermath of the accident, tweeting on May 17 that "ugly, ill-bred attacks" were "based on a lie." Nişancıoğlu stressed that both interviewed women were miners' relatives, as previously reported, refuting claims in the pro-government media.

Special thanks to Norway and Israel

Erdoğan also thanked countries that offered condolences and humanitarian assistance, especially those whose leaders phoned him directly, such as Pakistan, Russia, Qatar and Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also specifically thanked Norway and Israel for their cancelation of their national day reception last week after the accident.