Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) presidential candidate Muharram İnce on Sunday visited a coal miners’ memorial in Soma, Manisa province, where the deadliest coal mining accident in Turkish history took place four years ago, killing 301 people, and pledged to bring Yusuf Yerkel, who immediately after the disaster kicked Erdal Kocabıyık, a relative of a victim, to justice
After his visit to the monument, İnce walked with coal miners’ families to a square where a rally was to be held.
“Let me tell you this: Since May 4, I have been struggling to make peace among Turkish citizens. I never pursue revenge, except for one thing. I cannot forget that kick,” İnce told the crowd.
Yerkel, at the time an advisor to the prime minister, launched a physical attack on Kocabıyık while two gendarmes held the man on the ground. On Sunday Yerkel tweeted that he regretted what had happened and asked Kocabıyık to forgive him.
Yerkel also pointed to Soma Holding, the owner of the coal mine, as the party responsible for the disaster.
Following the statement of İnce, Yusuf Yerkel made a statement via a twitter thread, saying he was scapegoated just because of a photograph, while people overlooked those who were really responsible of the mining disaster. Yerkel added that he had apologised personally from Erdal Kocabıyık, the man who he had kicked and had asked for his blessing.
“Given that we can make mistakes in this life like every other person, I want to admit that I took my share from those mistakes. Hereby, I want to express my deep regrets for taking part in such an event and apologise from the public,” Yerkel said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday rebuffed a proposal for general amnesty floated by his ultra-nationalist ally Devlet Bahçeli for the June 24 elections, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
“This proposal belongs to Mr. Bahçeli. We, with our government, definitely have no such plan,” Erdoğan said at İstanbul Atatürk Airport before leaving for the United Kingdom.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Bahçeli on Saturday called for amnesty for notorious gang leaders Alaattin Çakıcı and Kürşat Yılmaz, who have both been convicted of various crimes.
The MHP leader tweeted about a general amnesty excluding “child abusers, rapists, women murderers, Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] militants and Gülen-linked prisoners.”
Bahçeli has formed an alliance with Erdoğan’s ruling the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in advance of snap elections on June 24, for which his remarks over the need for an early poll started the discussion.
Erdoğan’s chief advisor, Yiğit Bulut, also mentioned a general amnesty for designated crimes on May 3. “As we enter a new decade, let us start a PAX Presidenta dynamic and make this peace reasonable,” he said in a column for the pro-government Star daily.
According to CHP deputy Barış Yarkadaş, who tweeted on Saturday about the issue, these statements are signs of a plan that had already been drafted under Erdoğan’s orders and included 100,000 inmates. (SCF with turkishminute.com)