Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the BBC of hiring two actors to pose as relatives of miners killed in the Soma mining disaster. In a news report filed by BBC Turkey journalist Rengin Arslan, the two veiled women are shown claiming they have previously voted for the ruling AK Party, but have now changed their minds.
International Business Times reports that Erdogan made the allegations at a party meeting following the broadcast, accusing the women of lying about their connection to the miners and deceiving the international press.
BBC Turkey has responded by issuing a statement calling the allegations “unfounded” and stood by the video.
The statement said: “BBC Turkey did not interview the women, we just filmed the two women while they were talking. We also have confirmation that they are miners’ wives. For all these reasons, we stand behind the news reported.”
The BBC also said that they did not report the women’s names as they wanted to remain anonymous.
The Soma disaster killed 301 miners, making it the worst mining disaster in Turkish history. Prime Minister Erdogan has faced criticism over his response to the disaster, especially for his comment that such disasters are “normal”. While on a visit to Soma, he was forced to take shelter in a shop after being besieged by angry residents.
He has since tried to repair the damage by acting decisively. The CEO and general manager of the mine have been arrested for causing death by negligence.
Erdogan said yesterday: “God willing, everyone will draw the necessary lessons from this disaster. We shall be more determined than ever to increase supervision and to take the necessary steps.
“No one will be able to cover up this painful incident. All criminal and administrative investigations will be carried out and we will be strictly monitoring them.”