TURKEY…IS IT PROGRESSING BACKWARDS?

Turkey had been a Secular State since it was formed by Mustafa Kamal Ataturk IN 1923.  During most of its history, it had become an open society, with agrarian and educational reforms, as it had begun to transform itself into a Modern Western Democracy.  In fact, Turkey seemed to be well on the way to potentially joining the European Union.

The current Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has always been known as a Conservative Islamist, seemed to have kept his personal views in check, at least up until a year ago, when he seemed to change course, and started moving Turkey into being an Authoritarian Islamist Nation.  Journalists and Academics who differed in opinion were incarcerated.  Freedom of the Press and Speech appeared to have vanished overnight.

You might remember the thousands of Turks who protested such moves last summer, in Istanbul and other cities, were being confronted by police and the military, and being tear gassed and subjected to water cannons.  The previously popular Erdogan and his Administration came to be regarded by the populace as pariahs.  Their style was arrogance and paranoia.

The latest incident was the mine disaster in Soma Turkey last week, which claimed the lives of 301 Miners.  Mines in Australia, Canada, the U.S. and South America generally have “refuge chambers”, similar to those that saved the lives of 33 Miners in Chile in 2010.  The owner of the Soma Mine stated on TV a year ago that they had such chambers; however, it turns out that the Soma mine had only one, in an inactive part of the mine–thus, it saved no one.

Mr. Erdogan was booed when he toured Soma, several days after the mine fire.  He slapped one man who his bodyguards then beat up.  One of his ministers kicked another man while he was held down by police.  Eventually, the People of Soma–protesting the actions of their government–were gassed and had water cannons fired at them.  Just think: a small town, which lost so many of its own, being treated like so much dirt.

Prime Minister Erdogan commented, after touring the town, that the horrific incident “…is in the nature of the profession”.  Then, he blew the top off of all sanity by citing similar deadly mine accidents in other countries, such as:  England in 1862 and 1866; France in 1906 and the U. S. in 1907.  Is Erdogan lost in time?  The Director of Tepav, a Turkish research center, said that the key statistic of Miner Safety in Turkey, miner deaths per million tons of coal production, is 300 times that of the United States.

Once again, Worker Safety is not emphasized, because safety cuts into profitability and, especially in the case of miners, workers are generally too poor to have a high-priced team of lobbyists to speak for them.  The article, by Mustafa Akyol, a Turk, from the NY Times, is linked as follows: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/15/world/europe/rescuers-seek-survivors-in-turkey-mine-disaster.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%5B%22RI%3A6%22%2C%22RI%3A18%22%5D&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DSectionFront%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3Dworld%26t%3Dqry646%23%2Fturkey+mine+disaster

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