Turkey to allow Kurdish language in court as hunger strike enters day 56

ISTANBUL, REUTERS – 7.11.2012 – The Turkish government has said it will soon submit to parliament a reform allowing defendants to use languages other than Turkish in court, a key demand of jailed Kurdish militants whose hunger strike entered its 56th day on Tuesday.

The refusal of courts to allow defendants who speak Turkish to use Kurdish in their defense has been a source of controversy in ongoing court cases against hundreds of defendants accused of links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group.”A person will be able to defend themselves in court in the language in which they can best express themselves,” Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters late on Monday after a cabinet meeting where the issue was discussed. “The prime minister has given the order to our justice minister to develop this and send it rapidly to parliament to become law,” he said, saying that the legal revision would be made in the coming days. Arinc stressed that the ruling AK Party had already promised to enact the reform in a booklet distributed at its congress in September, seeking to dispel the idea that it was acting in response to the hunger strike.