Turkey: mine disaster survivors face prison

Nine Turkish miners who survived last year's Soma mining disaster face six years in prison for violating the law restricting demonstrations and damaging property during a protest to demand that the bodies of their co-workers be extracted from the mine. The protestors are alleged to have blocked a road and damaged a passing vehicle at a protest to demand justice over the disaster, in which 301 miners died in an explosion on May 13, 2014. The trial for the Soma disaster opened on April 13, during which the 45 suspects, including the eight former managers from the Soma Coal Mine Company denied charges of "killing with probable criminal intent," precipitating anger among the families of the victims.

Charges against the Soma miners are not new. One miner, Erdal Kocabıyık—who was photographed being kicked by Yusuf Yerkel, an advisor for then-prime minister (now president) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, during a demonstration at Soma last year—was fined 548 Turkish liras (about $200) in May for kicking a car in Erdoğan's convoy.

Özgür Özel, a deputy with the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) who is also running for the parliament, said his party would stand with the nine. "We will also follow this case," he said. "No one should try to smash the miners like an ant." (Doğan News Agency, June 2)