Three hundred one of our brothers were martyred in a fire that broke out in a private coal mine in Soma, one of Turkey’s main coal production centers, last week. I am using the term “martyred” deliberately, because there are several hadiths of our Prophet (saas) that refer to people who die in accidents or disasters being “martyrs.” One hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah, for example, says, “…Someone who dies under ruins is a martyr …” (Sahih Bukhari 689, Sahih Muslim 1914/164).
Following the end of rescue efforts in the mine, there are now two things that need to be done: The first is for all possible precautions to be taken to avoid any repetition of such an accident, and the second is for the state to use all the means at its disposal, with the support of the nation, to compensate the families of those who lost their lives in the accident and the injured survivors.
The state and the public have important duties and responsibilities when it comes to the families of our martyred and injured brothers. It is essential to watch over and protect the families of the martyrs as if they were our families, to ensure that they are given all kinds of support and assistance and to approach them with kindly language that does not remind them of their pain.
It will gladden people’s hearts if the state in particular shows that families of the martyrs are being watched out for through careful and scrupulous planning. It is essential to ensure that our dear brothers have pleasant lives and to prevent any deficiencies or suffering that might lead them to grief. The state must send food in trucks to the families of the martyrs; it must improve the conditions of the homes they live in; it must assume responsibility for the treatment and care of the sick, if any; and it must take care of the education of the orphaned children and ensure that the remainder of the families’ lives are made as comfortable as possible. Debts must be cleared, and all means possible must be provided so as to ensure they never experience financial difficulties again. The same thing applies to the families of the injured and miners who will suffer with the closure of the mine. Such an affectionate and protective approach will make us all feel better.
It is essential for comprehensive measures to be taken
The second important issue involves comprehensive measures to ensure that such an accident never takes place again. The latest tragedy being the worst industrial accident in the history of the Turkish Republic revealed serious technical deficiencies and negligence in inspection mechanisms regarding security and safety at work. Turkey must no longer stand in first place for industrial accidents in Europe and third place worldwide, and all the requisite measures must be taken.
Sending miners underground is a method that has stopped being used in many modern countries. Germany, for instance, which produces several times more coal than Turkey per annum, uses remote control high-tech robots and other giant machines instead of human miners. Picks and shovels are no longer used to dig coal out in developed countries; their workers simply run the machinery. Turkey, however, lags far behind developed countries in coal mining. The private sector, in particular, acting on the basis of productivity and profit and failing to take necessary steps to improve working conditions and ensure safety at work, combined with a lack of worker training, various deficiencies in the state’s inspection mechanism, gaps in the current regulations or a failure to implement the laws all lead to a constant increase in industrial accidents. Yet there is a huge decrease in such accidents taking place in developed countries, to zero in some.
There is a very terrible picture here. Miners must not be allowed to go down to the coal seams, not just in Soma but in all Turkey’s more than 700 mines, until every deficiency in the reports published in the wake of the investigations has been remedied. Realizing that there are still some 50,000 miners in Turkey gives a better idea of the danger. Serious legal measures need to be brought in as a matter of urgency in order to prevent misconduct and not just reduce the number of accidents, but to totally eradicate them. Standards in privatized enterprises need to be determined with the very greatest of care, and all the requisite measures need to be taken as a matter of urgency on the subject of supervision and inspection. Employers, inspectors, official bodies, and industrial unions need to be given greater awareness on the subject of mining. The state has a duty to ensure that laws do not remain solely on the statute books, but are properly enforced.
Another matter that needs to be emphasized is the need for rescue techniques to be raised to - or above - world standards, and for equipment, personnel and technical support to be brought in from abroad if necessary. Spending on such matters must not be regarded as an additional cost, but as an essential investment, and meaningful regulations need to be brought in as well as serious sanctions for those who violate those regulations and put our people at risk.
Unless these measures are taken quickly, many more Somas are inevitable. And those who fail to take these precautions will be responsible, in this world and the Hereafter, for every fatality that occurs. Finally, I once again beseech the mercy of God, Who put an end to their harsh lives and raised them to a blessed position, upon our martyred miner brothers, and extend my sincerest condolences to their families.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Harakah Daily: