Saturday, September 13, 2014
Turkey police fire gas at protests over worker lift deaths
Turkish riot police on Sunday fired tear gas and water cannon at protesters in Istanbul, a day after 10 workers were killed when a lift crashed to the ground from the 32nd storey of a building, AFP reports. Police stepped in when more than 1,000 people gathered near the construction site in Istanbul’s upscale Mecidiyekoy district to express their anger at Turkey’s lax workplace safety measures, an AFP photographer at the scene reported. “This is not an accident, this is not a destiny, this is murder!” the crowd shouted, at the first major confrontation between demonstrators and the authorities since Recep Tayyip Erdogan was inaugurated as president last month.
Authorities said an investigation had been launched into the incident at the Torunlar Centre, which is being built on the former site of Galatasaray football club’s Ali Sami Yen stadium. The exact cause of the accident remains unclear. There have been claims that the elevator broke down two weeks ago and that workers were awaiting funds to repair it. “I lost my two sons,” said father-of-six Mithat Kara, as he sat in tears at the side of the construction site. Among the dead was also 21-year old student Hidir Ali Genc, who used to work at construction sites to fund his university expenses. The incident created a storm on social media, with users criticising the government’s handling of the protest. “State, answer to industrial accidents. Workers respond by making barricades,” one Twitter user wrote.