Unregistered miners labeled as thieves, barred from public seats

Unregistered miners labeled as thieves, barred from public seats

ZONGULDAK - Doğan News Agency
Unregistered miners labeled as thieves, barred from public seats

A group of miners walk in Gelik, where many people are labeled as thieves because of unregistered mining activities.

Most of the residents of a small town in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak are ineligible to be public servants, municipal representatives or other local authorities because they have theft records, according to the mayor.

However, these are not cases of ordinary crimes, as many of the 3,800 people in Gelik are involved in the unauthorized coal mining business.

The people caught doing such mining are labeled as thieves by law, Mayor Fahri Yıldırım said.
There are eight private mining companies in the region and hundreds of unregistered mines are active on their fields, the mayor said.

“In the last local elections [in 2009] I hardly made a list of 18 aldermen. Now the elections are coming again, and I am not a candidate. If this is the case we will have to transfer village headmen and aldermen here.”

The next local elections are scheduled for March 2014.

The mayor calculated that there are thousands of people working at 800 unregistered mines.
”If they do not have another profession, these people have no option other than mining. By saying so I am not approving of smuggling. But these people also should be taxed. Thieves, murderers and extorters have seen amnesty several times during the history of the republic. These people, who are labeled as thieves for trying to make a living by working in mines may be forgiven.”

The mayor suggested that local mining firms could be encouraged to register these mines, also providing social security for these people.

Yıldırım, who has been the mayor for nine years, said there are few actual theft cases in Gelik. “This is because our people see the coal as their hope and run after it.”

Zonguldak is the heart of coal mining in Turkey.