Ankara to authorise Kurdish language in courts

Under growing pressure

ANKARA - Turkey's ruling party submitted a bill to parliament Tuesday overnight to allow court testimonies to be given in the Kurdish language, one of the demands raised by hundreds of hunger strikers nationwide.
"A detainee, if he likes, may use another language (than Turkish) to defend himself against charges brought against him in the court," according to the bill proposed by the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The bill would also allow conjugal visits for Kurdish inmates, which have been banned thus far.
The Turkish government is under growing pressure over how to tackle the hunger strike by around 700 Kurdish prisoners, which is now in its 63rd day.
Several politicians from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have also joined the hunger strike recently.
It was not immediately clear when the bill would be discussed in parliament, where the AKP holds a comfortable majority.
A parliamentary source said that the debate could start only if a majority of Kurdish activists abandon their hunger strike to reciprocate the "gesture of the governing party."
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP government has expanded cultural and language rights for the Kurds since taking power a decade ago but many have branded reforms for the Kurds "too little, too late."