Friday, May 16, 2014

Kalbimiz Soma'da: How to help families of Soma mine disaster victims

Since news broke Tuesday of a deadly explosion in a coal mine in Soma, a town in Turkey's Manisa province, the country has been plunged into deep mourning as the number of fatalities climbed to at least 283, making it the deadliest industrial disaster in Turkey's history.

That grief, however, has also been accompanied by frustration and anger as details of the working conditions at the mine, Turkey's overall poor workplace safety record, and the prime minister and other government officials' callous-at-best response to the tragedy have become public.

Across the country, events have been canceled out of respect for the dead, protests held to demand justice, and signs of solidarity posted in windows everywhere from supermarkets to bars, office building to taxicabs. Relief initiatives are also being set up to help the families of the Soma victims. Here are some ways you can show that "Soma Madencisi Yalnız Değil" (Soma Miners Are Not Alone) and "Kalbimiz Soma'da" (Our Hearts Are In Soma):

TPF Soma Disaster Relief Fund
The U.S.-based Turkish Philanthropy Funds, which specializes in "high-impact social investments in Turkey," is collecting donations to be distributed to miners' families through targeted grants to the organization's well-regarded local NGO partners.
(Update: Turkish Philanthropy Funds is also using the Global Giving website to make it easier for U.S.-based supporters to donate via text message, check, stock donation, or monthly recurring donation.)

Soma Mining Disaster Relief Fund
Acclaimed Turkish scientist and conservationist Çağan Şekercioğlu has set up an online campaign to raise funds for families of the mine victims, many of whom hailed from his home province, nearby Balıkesir. Şekercioğlu, whose environmental work I've covered in the past, will deliver 100 per cent of the funds directly to needy families, many of which have no breadwinners left after the disaster and are facing bankruptcy.
(Update: The first batch of donations were delivered one week after the disaster to 11 families in the small, but hard-hit village of Elmadere. The money will help sustain families until government pensions kick in. Şekercioğlu will make another visit to the affected area at the end of June to distribute the remaining funds. He can also help facilitate donations for the ongoing legal expenses that will be incurred in lawsuits against the mining company.)

Soma için Gençlik Burs Fonu (Soma Youth Scholarship Fund)
Toplum Gönüllüleri Vakfı (Community Volunteers Foundation), a partner organization of the charity running group Adım Adım, has created a Soma Youth Scholarship Fund to help fund the education of students who lost a close family member in the mine disaster.
If you know of any other reliable, worthy groups collecting donations or offering other assistance to Soma miners' families, please let me know and I'll keep updating the list.


Soma İçin Müzik (Music for Soma)
Turkish music promoter Pozitif Live will be donating ticket revenues from its June concerts -- the One Love Festival, Travis, Bob Dylan, Travis, and the Pixies -- to help families who lost their loved ones in the Soma disaster.

Other options
For those who read Turkish, the news site Haberturk, entertainment site, and family travel blog Gezgin Anne have each put together fairly long (and in many cases overlapping) lists of organizations that have started Soma relief campaigns. I haven't independently verified the trustworthiness of those not already mentioned, so any reader input on those that do (or do not) merit support would be appreciated.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Yorumsuz (No comment)

"Please give me your blessings, son."
     -- Note found in the hand of a miner who died in this week's Soma mine disaster near İzmir, Turkey

"Let me take my boots off, the stretcher shouldn't get dirty."

"Mahmut didn't get out. Mahmut couldn't get out… Leave me, I'm alone, take him. His wife is pregnant..."
     -- Rescued miner

# # # 

"Explosions like this in these mines happen all the time. It's not like these don't happen elsewhere in the world."
    -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, visiting the Soma diaster site

"Those who survived Soma were the ones who used their minds."
   -- İzmir Deputy Governor Mustafa Harputlu, a member of Erdoğan's ruling party

"The rumors that a 15-year-old died in the mine was false. He was 19. That's good news."