Iran's Rouhani exploits a coal mine explosion for electioneering, gets pelted

A major coal mine explosion struck northern Iran last Thursday, killing at least 35 miners and injuring at least 25 others, all of whom were hospitalized over inhaling the gas during rescue efforts after the blast.  The blast occurred in the Zemestanyurt mine, about 14 kilometers outside the town of Azadshahr.

"Financial problems resulted in the lack of safety precautions in the coal mine.  The workers themselves are reduced to negotiating for their own demands," said Ramezan Bahrami, head of the regime's Mining & Industry House in Golestan Province, in an interview with the Tasnim news agency, which is affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guards Quds Force (IRGC).  Lacks of safety standards and inadequate emergency services in mining areas contributed to these high fatalities. 

This is not the first disaster to strike Iran's mining industry.  In 2013, 11 workers were killed in two separate mining incidents.  In 2009, 20 workers were killed in several other incidents.

On May 7, 2017, President Rouhani visited the site of the deadly mine explosion to exploit the situation as a means of advancing his agenda for the upcoming presidential election and nullify the criticisms of his rivals, of which there were many.  His aim was to exculpate himself from his own policies during his tenure.  An old Persian proverb could describe his act as "catching a fish from muddy water."  But angry coal miners and their families weren't fooled by his phony pious show of "concern" for them.

"They besieged and attacked Rouhani's car after he visited the site," NCRI reported.  "Why is there no safety at the mine?  Why does no one care?" the spokesman for the miners could be seen shouting at the scene in a video shared on social media.

See the video clips below:

So why did the coal mine in Iran's north actually explode?

Methane gas likely contributed to the fatal blast at the mine.  There are two main types of coal mine explosions: methane explosions and coal dust explosions.

Methane explosions occur in mines when there is a buildup of methane gas (a byproduct of coal) and it comes into contact with a heat source when there is not enough air to dilute the gas to levels to below its explosion point, explained Yi Luo, an associate professor of mining engineering at West Virginia University, in Morgantown, W. Va.

In 1986, the International Labor Organization issued safety rules and regulations on mining sites, stating: "In every country where coal is mined, it should be the duty of the government to enact sufficient appropriate legislation to ensure the safe conduct of the mines together with the minimum of risk to health."

"An underground mine's safety and health management system must provide for a gas monitoring system complying with this section. Every battery locomotive shall be equipped with a methane-meter that gives a visual warning to the operator of the locomotive when the concentration of methane gas reaches 1 per cent.

Where the concentration of flammable gas in the general body of the air in the intake airway to a working face, measured at a location not more than 100 m from that face, exceeds 0.5 per cent, the employer shall

(a) Report that fact to a safety officer at the district office; and

(b) Stop all activities in the section until the concentration is reduced to less than 0.5 per cent.

"Despite the fact that miners had sensed gas in the mine the day before and informed regime's officials in this regard, it was to no avail, according to the few miners who survived. This mine lacked any gas detection device, ventilation system or safety measures. The tunnel was a one-way opening and in the event of an explosion all living creatures would be killed."

The miners were forced to continue working in intolerable conditions despite not receiving their wages for the past 18 months and lacking any insurance, the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI) reported.

Iran plundering the people's wealth to fund its exporting extremism in the region, weapons of mass destruction and domestic crackdown, or pouring such wealth into senior regime officials' bank accounts, Iran's workers will face nothing but being buried alive and suffering a slow death under this corrupt and repressive regime. The response they receive to their demands and strikes is nothing but imprisonment, lashing and being expelled from work.

Rouhani may think he's fooling workers with his concern but the time for concern passed long ago.  Iran's miners are angry.  As much of the last century shows, from Poland to Chile to China, angry miners portend revolution.  The only solution is to unite and declare solidarity amongst people from all walks of life to uproot the mullahs' regime and establish freedom and a democratic rule in Iran.