Skip to main content

Erdogan, entourage lose control in Soma

The angry rhetoric of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Justice and Development Party (AKP) elites has devolved into violence against ordinary citizens.
Police use water cannons against protesters as they demonstrate to blame the ruling AK Party (AKP) government for the mining disaster in Soma, a district in Turkey's western province of Manisa May 16, 2014. Turkish police fired water cannon and tear gas on Friday to disperse a crowd of several thousand protesters in the town of Soma, where close to 300 people died in the country's worst ever mining disaster this week, a Reuters witness said.     REUTERS/ Stringer (TURKEY - Tags: DISASTER ENERGY CIVIL UNREST

The most emotional photograph from the Soma mine disaster was of a rescued miner covered all in black laid on a stretcher. His rescuer wished him good luck, and the miner said, “Should I remove my boots, so they do not dirty the stretcher?” Millions of Turks cried watching this scene. In the midst of tragedy, to see a survivor worrying about “dirtying the stretcher” was a heart-stabbing moment.

Within 24 hours of this incident another young man made the news from Soma. Yusuf Yerkel, an aide to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was caught on camera kicking a man. The prime minister’s convoy was met with angry protesters in Soma. The cars were “attacked” by local youth who were chanting, “Erdogan resign.” At one point, a protester allegedly used expletives, which is when Yerkel lost his cool and attacked the man. One minor detail is that two policemen already had subdued the protester when Yerkel began to kick him.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.