May 13 2018

Erdoğan’s aide who kicked Soma protestor apologised 4 years later

Yusuf Yerkel, who became notorious in Turkey after he attacked a protester in Soma in the wake of Turkey’s worst ever mining disaster, in May 2013, apologised on Sunday on social media.

The apology came on the anniversary of the mining disaster, following the election rally of Muharram İnce, the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) presidential candidate for the upcoming elections on June 24, today in Soma, where İnce vowed to bring Yusuf Yerkel to account for his attack.

“Today is a day of mourning for Turkey. I came here to share your suffering,” İnce said during the rally. “I am trying to make peace in Turkey, trying to keep us together since May 4. I am not after retribution or revenge, but one thing is an exception, that kick…  That kick hurt me deeply. They did not give a job to this boy, who was kicked. I am a coward if I don’t call the kicker to account,” he added.

Yusuf Yerkel afterwards 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.

Yusuf Yerkel, was working as an aide to then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, attacked the man during a visit by Erdoğan to Soma in the immediate aftermath of an accident there that claimed 301 miner’s lives.

During the visit Erdoğan gave a speech that so angered the relatives and friends of the victims that he was forced to take shelter in a shop during an attempt to walk around the town. Shortly afterwards Yerkel was filmed kicking a protester lying on the ground, restrained by police.

After the incident Yerkel, initially refused to apologise for his actions and went on sick leave, complaining of a leg injury . He later issued an apology, but was fired a few days later.