After the Soma mine disaster in 2014, in which 301 people were killed, then-deputy chief of staff to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Yusuf Yerkel, kicked a miner who was protesting the catastrophe. Now, it has been revealed that Yerkel has been appointed to a lucrative post in the Turkish consulate in Frankfurt.
In 2014, 301 miners died in an explosion in the Eynez coal mine in the Aegean province of Manisa. Close relationships between mine executives and the AKP-led government allegedly lead to a lack of oversight of mine conditions, which many in the town saw as the cause of the disaster. When Erdoğan visited the town of Soma after the disaster in 2014, he drew ire for dismissing the deaths as a part of the job. On the same trip, Yerkel was captured kicking a man on the job.
The families of those who died in the accident say they have received little support from the government.
Yerkel, for his part, was leaving Soma when he attacked a protester. Erdal Kocabıyık, a miner, kicked one of the AKP convoy vehicles and was tackled to the ground. As shown in videos taken at the scene, security officers hold Kocabıyık to the ground and Yerkel kicks him repeatedly. The video went viral on social media after the incident, calling for his dismissal.
Though Yerkel is no longer deputy to Erdoğan, he has now been granted a plush position in Germany. According to reporting by daily Sözcü, Yerkel, who does not have an economics education, will be paid 6,000 euro (approximately 93,000 lira) monthly by Ankara as Commercial Attache to Germany. Social security will also be paid by Turkey.
He will also receive a “gray passport,” granting him diplomatic status and immunity, and all of his and his family’s travel expenses to and from Germany will be paid by Turkey.
All health costs for Yerkel and his family - “emergency or not” - will also be transferred to Germany and paid for by the Turkish Social Security Administration. His children will also have the opportunity to go to private or foreign language schools, paid for by the Turkish government.
Yerkel’s house will be paid for by the Turkish state, and he will also receive a brand-new Mercedes while working in Germany. At the end of his term in Germany, he will be allowed to take the car and any other means of transportation (i.e., more family vehicles) back to Turkey with him.
Finally, because the government will contribute to his pension fund based on a high, Euro salary, his retirement will be leagues higher than most state employees.
Upon Sözcü’s reporting, many opposition politicians reacted to the news. Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy and spokesperson Faik Öztrak condemned the presidential palace for “greasing the wheels” of their allies while the nation is plunged into poverty, while CHP deputy Veli Ağbaba pointed out that this is just another of many unqualified diplomatic posts around the world. Many others used the opportunity to condemn Yerkel’s actions in 2014, including CHP Deputy Chairman Onursel Adıgüzel.
"Wherever you are assigned, no matter what your compensation is, you will always be remembered by this shameful picture, Yusuf!” he wrote on social media.
301 işçimizi kaybettiğimiz Soma maden faciası sonrası protestoda bulunan maden işçisini acımasızca tekmeleyen Yusuf Yerkel’i Frankfurt'a 'ticari ateşe' olarak atadılar. Nereye atanırsan atan, mükafatın ne olursa olsun gelecekte hep bu utanç verici kareyle hatırlanacaksın Yusuf! pic.twitter.com/Uz0FDajQHv— Onursal Adıgüzel (@onursaladiguzel) January 9, 2022