As Turkey mourns the loss of more than 280 miners, killed this week in the country's worst-ever mining accident, those responsible for the men's safety are shrugging off blame.
Days after the accident, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz has confirmed the death toll at 284, adding that no more than 18 miners, believed dead, remain trapped in the mine. Yildiz promised that those responsible for the accident will be punished, saying "If they are at fault, no tolerance will be shown regardless of whether they are from the public or private sector."
But Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has responded callously to the accident, citing statistics of global mining deaths in an effort to show that such disasters were "natural." The government's apparent indifference seemed perfectly encapsulated by a photo of an aide to the PM savagely kicking a protester, though he later offered a weak apology for the incident:
Erdogan aide apologizes for losing temper. Turkish FM told me y'day: “of course” aide’s kick was not appropriate: http://t.co/jqsr7t1rFw— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) May 16, 2014
And members of administration have refused any responsibility for the accident. One deputy leader in Erdogan's party, Huseyin Celik, said that "We have no inspection and supervision problem... This mine was inspected vigorously 11 times since 2009." Celike added, "Let's learn from this pain and rectify our mistakes. The private sector and the public sector will draw lessons... This is not the time to look for a scapegoat."