Published on 15 May 2014

Turkey: grief and anger met with contempt and thuggery

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Yusuf Yerkel is a senior adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan – a man who thinks his country should join the EU.

He is usually to be seen at the side of his boss. He is an educated man Рnot least at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.  So to say he should know better is putting it mildly.

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But there he is, in front of several photographers and cameraman, in Soma yesterday, kicking a protester whilst he is both lying on the ground and being manhandled by several military guards.

A protester is kicked by Yusuf Yerkel, advisor to Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, as Special Forces police officers detain him during a protest against Erdogan's visit to Soma

It is not confirmed, but many reports say the man being assaulted by this senior government official as he lies on the ground is a relative of a dead, missing, or injured miner. Given the location in Soma the chances of that are very high.

Mr Yerkel, to the best of my knowledge, has not been arrested by the police in Turkey. If so – why not?

He has also, as I write, neither resigned nor been sacked – why not?

It all compounds the sense that Prime Minister Erdogan does not seem to be aware what century we are now living in. Turkey’s astonishing economic performance in recent years belies an autocratic, dictatorial, political elite which we saw personified in Mr Yerkel yesterday.

This insouciance was blindingly obvious when Mr Erdogan himself made some simply mind-boggling comments in his speech at the disaster zone.

He said mining disasters are ‘usual’ and normal. His evidence was a string of disasters in England in the nineteenth century. Yes, really, the nineteenth century. .

His implication was obvious – and not lost on the Turkish people who responded with anger – mining disasters are normal and no big deal, and we in Turkey are still in the nineteenth century anyhow.

As a national insult, at this location, at this time, it is breathtaking.

It would have killed the political career of any US or European leader stone-dead on the spot. In Turkey things just roll on.

Today PM Erdogan is still in power. No resignation. No apology.

The goons of the various paramilitary Turkish police forces across the nation are right now ready to attack protesters on the streets. Who knows – the government may again shut down social media to stop anyone voicing their opinion in “democratic” Turkey.

Meanwhile (in a country strikebound today in protest over Erdogan’s close ties to the mining company and his governments quashing of a safety probe into the mine only last month) Turkey’s President is in Soma today.

Will he show the same utter contempt for the Turkish people that the Prime Minister and his thug-in-a-suit advisor  Yerkel did yesterday?

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5 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:

    Alex,

    Yerkel merely complies with the ur-fascist type you will find in London, Washington and all the other craven European cities.

    And such nutters form governments and run banks and industries.

    The only difference with Yerkel is that he went public. But sooner or later anyway events flush people like him out of the sewers and into the light of day.

    So essentially what’s the basic difference between him and the NATO warmongers and transnational bankers who loot national wealth? All of them kick victims while they are on the ground. All of them blame the victims. And like all bullying scum, they hate victims they wrong.

    It’s what capitalism does, and it will NEVER change.

  2. Aboud Dandachi says:

    Astonishing. The whole time Thomson was in Syria, I don’t ever recall him expressing the opinion that Bashar Assad should step down from office. Just the opposite, Thomson infamously called opposition efforts to document the regime’s atrocities a “song and dance”, a contemptible attitude towards brave citizen journalists without whom we would know little of the brutal events in Syria.

    Thomson should be very careful what he wishes for. What does he imagine would happen to the more than one million Syrian refugees currently residing in Turkey were Erdogan to step down? No successor government will be half as accommodating to them as the current one has been. Does Thomson really believe that the tiny channel or even the Mediterranean will insulate him from more than one million refugees all desperate to reach Europe?

    The UK is in no shape whatsoever to deal with the waves of refugees that will descent on its shores should Turkey change its policy towards Syrian refugees. Erdogan has saved Europe from a humanitarian apocalypse, and frankly the EU should start showing some gratitude. If Thomas gets his wish (something he never dared for a moment to suggest about Assad), in the not too distant future he will not be able to walk the streets without seeing the human fallout of Assad’s handiwork, a handiwork he had no problem shilling for when he was in Syria.

  3. Mejoff says:

    When George Osbourne reads this article and sees these images he will need a cold shower.

  4. A lot bigger than Yerkel says:

    I’d like to see him try to kick me like that.

  5. Bob says:

    He looks like Ed Miliband.

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