First I saw the headline ’20 miners dead’, I was saddened and worried but not too shaken. When Mayor of Manisa told that there were at least 157 dead, I just didn’t want to believe it. ‘We are not exactly a developed country but such things don’t happen here, not on this scale’, I thought. I wished it to be a foolish manipulative move by the opposition-party mayor to hurt the ruling AKP. Clearly, I was in denial. On the Tuesday morning, it was all over the news that more than 200 miners deceased – it was actually on that scale. My sadness turned into rage.
The Prime Ministry declared national mourning for three days. National mourning, a national sense of solidarity, coping with the disaster collectively, feeling the pains of your countrymen… surely sounds very noble and dignified. Alas, that is not totally the case in Turkey. The disaster was followed by more indignities. And the greatest indignities of all goes by the name of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Imagine a prime minister coming into a disaster-hit town and slaps a citizen, his bodyguards horribly beating him afterwards. A prime minister with an army of guards surrounding him threatens the people booing him ‘come on and do it next to me, if you can!’, and whose aide brutally kicks a citizen on the floor who was held by two policemen. A prime minister that cites a mining disaster from Victorian Britain, to make the point that ‘such things happen even in developed countries’.
Is he stupid, is he thinking that people are stupid? Or is it an effect of the cancer some think that he has? I don’t know. Optimist fools still wait for him to be reasonable as he was in the first years of his rule. But no, he just keeps getting worse and worse. More paranoid, more despotic, more unbalanced every day.
Much as I wanted this short piece to display only a solemn grief, it is hard to separate this all from politics. When a man causes a scandal at a funeral, that has to be spoken.