Turkey is up in arms over the Soma Mine disaster, which has killed over 280 people. Labour unions have called for a national one-day strike on Thursday. Simultaneously, protests have shaken several major cities and the authorities have responded with their typical mixture of tear gas and water cannons.
In addition to the dead, over 100 miners remain trapped underground with hopes for their rescue flagging.
Erdogan and his AK Party have drawn the ire if the general public for comments he made in relation to the tragedy. The Turkish Prime Minister ridiculed opposition parties for political grandstanding, referring to their failed attempt at introducing mine safety reform two weeks ago.
The situation has only been inflamed by verified pictures of one of Erdogan’s aides, Yusuf Yerkel, kicking a protester that Special Forces had detained on the ground. There are also unverified reports that Erdogan punched a mourner during his visit to Soma.
The Soma mine disaster is one of the world’s worst mining disasters in decades.
Erdogan postponed an international trip to visit the town of Soma to offer his condolences, but he was greeted by chants demanding his resignation.
Protestors in Soma quickly vented their frustration by attacking the local offices of the AK Party.
Anger against Erdogan has been building for months because of his increasingly authoritarian methods and allegations of widespread corruption. Protestors across Turkey used this moment as a chance to call for the long-serving Prime Minister’s resignation.
Police responded by heading off protestors in Istanbul and Ankara with the tried and true tactics of tear gas and intimidation.
Many protestors were turned away by water cannons …
… Although some protesters responded violently to police action by throwing fire bombs.
Although there is palpable anger in Turkey, these protests are comparatively small, when held against previous demonstrations against Erdogan and his party within the past year.
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