Turkey: united in suffering

© Foto: AFP

«For our small variegated community – they wrote us –  made up of Christians of various Churches and Muslims, it is the moment of prayer, of solidarity, of sharing the suffering of these brothers and sisters. And of entrusting to God, once more, with faith, the future of this our Country. Pope Francis too prayed “for the mines in Turkey, and for those who are trapped in the galleries” and this was relayed to the Country, with heartfelt gratitude».

So far there are 282 victims officially accounted for, but the number may still rise (and maybe much higher). The overlapping of two shifts of workers precisely at the time of the incident has unfortunately doubled the number of men who have remained in the depths of the carbon mines of Soma, 120 km from Smirne, where the explosion took place two days ago. There are around eighty wounded, while several dozen workers are still unaccounted for. The government has declared three days of national mourning for the worst industrial tragedy that has happened on Turkey.

The images that come from the place of the disaster profoundly touch us, in particular the dignity of these people, whose men and boys, some very, very young, are used to doing extremely hard labour. A miner, just out of the tunnel is helped to climb onto a stretcher of the ambulance: “Should I remove my boots?”, he asked, afraid of dirtying the white bedsheet.

The Country is in protest: these disasters at work happen too often, and also this time the data, the outlines and the implications of what happened seem to be rather confusing, while the government is unable to convey the image of a reall preoccupation and solidarity with the people. The number of deaths at the workplace in Turkey have a sad record: according to the unions there have been 5,000 victims in the workplace in 2013, 19% of which happened in the mines. Turkey is the top country in Europe for accidents at work and the third throughout the world.

The disaster then has reached a moment that is extremely delicate in the social and political life in Turkey, after the last administrative elections wherein the party of Erdogan is once again leading and they are preparing for the presidential elections this coming August. The tension of that time in Taksim Square last June is latent and so protests have exploded once again. The labour unions have declared a day of general strike, that is quite rare in this Country, where the defense of worker’s rights still has a long way to go.

«The Bishop of the Latin-rite Catholic Church of Istambul – they concuded –, has expressed through a message sent to the authorities, the participation in the Nation’s suffering and the closeness to all the families of the victims».

Source: Focolare Movement

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