The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) submitted a motion to Parliament last year to investigate work-related accidents at coal mines in Soma, only for the proposal to be rejected with votes from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) around two weeks ago.
CHP Manisa Deputy Özgür Özel said he submitted a motion to the Parliament with the support of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies on Oct. 23, 2013.
“We demand an investigation into all the mine accidents in Soma to reveal the reasons and those responsible for the deaths in those accidents, to find permanent solutions to preventing a repeat of these cases, and to measure the sufficiency of the law enforcement and auditing of these institutions,” said the motion submitted by the CHP.
However, AKP deputies voted against the motion, ensuring its removal from Parliament’s agenda.
Özel has been seen with a mine worker’s yellow helmet in his hand while speaking in Parliament about the accidents in pictures widely shared on social media since the May 13 mine disaster in Soma, where more than 200 people have been confirmed dead so far.
MHP Manisa Deputy Erkan Akçay gave statistics from mine disasters in Soma during a parliamentary session on April 29.
“In 2013, 5,000 occupational accidents took place in Soma district. Ninety percent of these accidents took place in mines. Burn injuries share a considerable number of all mine injuries. However, hospitals in Soma lack the necessary burn units, and time is wasted on the road in transferring such injured workers to nearby hospitals,” Akçay said in Parliament.
He also said Turkey topped the occupational accidents list among European countries and ranked third worldwide in terms of accidents.
“Workers die an average of 8.5 times more in Turkey than in the European Union. There were 880,000 occupational accidents between 2002 and 2013, and 13,442 were killed in these accidents,” said Akçay.
1,235 workers killed in labor accidents last year
During the AKP’s rule, 219 occupational accidents have taken place every day, Akçay said, adding that four workers were killed and five were left with permanent disabilities each day as a result of workplace accidents.
In 2002, 872 workers were killed in occupational accidents, while this number was 1,235 workers in 2013, said Akçay.
During the deputies’ speeches in Parliament on April 29, AKP Manisa deputy Muzaffer Yurttaþ said the mines in Soma were the safest in the country and that mine companies were taking all necessary measures, but added that fatal accidents could still occur due to the “nature of this profession.”
“Coal mining is regarded as one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in the world. When we look at the numbers [of the accidents], it is clear that the mine companies in Soma are in a better position compared to other mines in Turkey and across the world. Unwanted accidents still take place in such dangerous and difficult profession despite the fact that the companies in Soma are taking all the measures in line with the regulations,” Yurttaþ told Parliament on April 29, according to parliamentary speeches.
The official Twitter account of Parliament’s General Assembly said on April 29 that “the CHP group’s proposal on a motion about mine accidents in Soma is in Parliament today. The CHP group’s proposal has been rejected.”
“As Manisa deputies, we are tired of attending the funerals [of mine workers]. Neither we nor [coal miners’] families can take this pain any more. The Parliament, even the State Auditing Board (DDK), should take steps on this issue,” Özel said after the accident, according to daily Hürriyet.
“Our Parliamentary motion was rejected by 60 votes 20 days ago. Fatal accidents are taking place every three months. One mine was closed down following 10 successive accidents. We proposed to focus on the accidents in Soma in the motion that I prepared. We received the support of the MHP and the BDP for this motion. Unfortunately, it was rejected,” he said.
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