Turkey: Losing the freedom to mourn
Meltem Arikan shares her anger over the mine disaster that rocked Turkey -- and the arrests that followed.
16 May 14

Protesters have agreed to continue to guard duty starting in front of the building Soma Holding, Levent. (Photo: Nurcan Volkan / Demotix)

Protesters hold a vigil in Istanbul. (Photo: Nurcan Volkan / Demotix)

Protesters hold a vigil in Istanbul. (Photo: Nurcan Volkan / Demotix)

On the 13th of May the Soma mining disaster caused by carbon monoxide poisoning left over 230 dead. Writing this from afar, sadly there is an excessive amount of police brutality being applied to the protesters who were simply expressing their sadness and fury.

There were arrests. The most painful of all was that there were relatives of the deceased among the people who were detained. This time it wasn’t the freedom of speech that was taken away. It was the freedom to mourn.

While dreaming of awaking each morning to sunlight, there were those who awakened to a coal black. Those, who sacrificed saluting the day with sunlight and nurtured their hopes in a coal black to bring home food and to prepare a future for their children… didn’t, couldn’t… their hopes buried in coal black…

One can struggle for anything, anywhere, in any condition. As long as one breathes… but what if coal black stopped one from breathing? Children left behind without a father, women left behind without a husband, sisters left behind without a brother, mothers and fathers left behind without a son…
the sound of pain has never been filled with this much fury, fury has never turned so bitter… death has never come this blatantly…

The reasoning that easily ignores safety for the sake of more production at a lower cost per ton, causes murders. The disaster in Soma is not an accident. For the sake of mining coal for a thermal plant to produce electricity, our workers have been buried in pitch darkness so that we may be illuminated.

When lust for power and potency takes place of conscience…
When power is built upon fear…
Those, who are out of breath because of coal black, are of no worth
Those, who die at a very young age, are of no worth
Child labor, is of no worth
Freedom of speech is of no worth
Freedom of expression, is of no worth
Trying to express your feelings is of no worth
Trying to put your fury into words is of no worth
The humanitarian values are of no worth
What is of worth is, justifying those, who says “these are usual things”
What is of worth is silencing those, who show resistance
What is of worth is shutting up those, who object
What is of worth is controlling the media
What is of worth is ignoring the facts
What is of worth censoring
What is of worth is banning
What is of worth beating up
What is of worth is submissiveness
What is of worth becomes obedience
Without questioning, at the cost of lives

Brutality of those who are lacking pain empathy…
The hatred and brutality of mercilessness…

And amidst all these, the sensibility of an injured miner, with his coal black face asking in the ambulance “shall I take my boots off? Don’t want to dirty the stretcher.”

And painfully realising that this mercilessness has even taken away your words…

This article was posted on May 16, 2014 at

By Meltem Arikan

Meltem Arikan is a Turkish novelist and playwright.