Not so safe
Turkey's building and mining boom raises questions about workers' safety
“THAT building was erected on my brother's blood,” Damla Kiyak, a 20-year-old student, declares. Two years ago her 30-year-old brother, Baris, a construction worker, burned to death, with ten others, in a tent on the site of a shopping mall in Esenyurt. This urban sprawl on the outskirts of Istanbul is a symbol of the building boom that is enriching Turkey's businessmen and politicians—and claiming the lives of thousands.
The tent in which Baris died was meant for 50 people, but over 100 were crammed into it. They jammed electric blankets and stoves into a power outlet meant for telephone chargers. The tent was flammable. “Inspectors kept warning the owners that a fire was around the corner. They did nothing,” says Ms Kiyak, whose mother was approached by the firm to buy her silence. A legal fight over negligence by the owner continues.
At least 14,455 workers have died in industrial accidents since the Justice and Development (AK) party came to power in 2002. “Turkey has the worst worker safety record in Europe,” says Murat Cakir of Yangin Kulesi, an advocacy group. The neglect was revealed by a recent mine explosion in Soma, which killed 302, the highest toll in Turkish history. There was no refuge chamber; oxygen masks did not work; methane leaks and fires occurred daily.
In October in Ermenek, another mining town, 18 miners died when a shaft flooded. “My son doesn't know how to swim,” cried a mother as rescue teams worked. Leaks had been detected, yet the owners did nothing, pushing workers to the limit. Miners talk of being forced to urinate in water bottles to save time.
“Safety inspectors typically tip off owners, palms are greased,” explains Erbay Yucak, a lawyer helping Ms Kiyak. “But previous governments seem less corrupt only because the economy was far smaller.” AK has rammed through laws to punish negligent employers, but Ahmet Davutoglu, the prime minister, concedes that to improve safety “mentalities must change”.
In Esenyurt danger lurks in a high-voltage line near a cluster of new high-rise blocks. “Crime, drugs, pollution, unemployment, ethnic tensions, Syrian refugees. It's all there,” says Ayse Cavdar, a social anthropologist. Esenyurt is a recruiting ground for jihadists, who are said to have been behind arson attacks on two Shia mosques in the summer. “Most people buy these flats online. They have no idea of the dangers,” says Atakan Ciftci, an opposition councillor.
在Esenyurt危险潜伏在一根靠近集群的新高楼街区的高压线中。“犯罪、毒品、污染、失业、种族关系紧张以及叙利亚难民。全都集中在那儿。”社会人类学家Ayse Cavdar称。Esenyurt是圣战者的招募园地，这些圣战者们据说是夏天两起什叶派清真寺纵火案的幕后凶手。“大多数人上网买这些旗帜。他们对危险一无所知，”反对派议员Atakan Ciftci称。
The government is reviving plans for a shopping centre at Gezi Park that triggered lethal protests last year. The president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is building an extravagant new palace in Ankara. The culture ministry wants a madrassa in the courtyard of the Haghia Sophia museum. Might this boost AK's hopes of converting the old church into a mosque?
政府正在重新计划在加济公园一家购物中心，这一计划在去年引发了强烈抗议。总统埃尔多安正在安卡拉修建一座极为豪华的新宫殿。文化部想要在Haghia Sophia博物馆拥有的土地上修建一所伊斯兰学校。这会帮助AK'达成将老教堂转变为一个清真寺的希望吗？译者：邵夏沁 校对：王颖