Mining Disaster, Protests

May 15th, 2014 by David

Last week, I talked with Adonai Herrera-Martínez of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and he told us that Turkey was likely going to increase its use of coal in the next decade. This is because the government wants to promote “energy independence,” and the country has a lot of coal.

Yesterday, when walking around Ankara, we noticed that the flags were at half mast. We later learned that a major mining accident had killed over 280 coal miners, and that another 140 were still trapped underground.

That evening, I met with a climate organizer and consultant downtown, to interview him about the climate movement in Turkey. I noticed people marching in the streets, carrying banners. My contact told me that people were showing solidarity with the miners, and protesting the government for not requiring safer conditions. (I later learned that the prime minister made some regrettable remarks about the accident, and that one of his aides kicked a protestors — both of which further upset people frustrated by the government.) Soon, protesters were running by the coffee shop, and a cloud of tear gas and police officers were close behind. I took some video of the scene, which you can see below. The climate advocate who I interviewed told me that the reason that there is trash on fire is that the protestors lit the fires to help clear the tear gas.

This mining accident was a major tragedy, and yet another example of the costs of fossil fuels. It is also sad that the result of this tragedy is more unrest, and more displays of force against protestors.

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