Government moves to end hunger strike

Nov. 13, 2012 at 11:18 AM

ISTANBUL, Turkey, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Turkey's government has submitted a proposal to Parliament that would allow Kurds to address courts in their mother tongue, a government spokesman said.

The move is aimed at ending a hunger strike in Turkish prisons in which some 700 Kurds are participating, Today's Zaman reported Tuesday.

In addition to the language change, the government is proposing to improve inmate conditions by allowing conjugal visits from spouses every three months and permitting inmates with serious diseases to apply for temporary release from prison.

Inmates accused of membership in the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party, known as the PKK, and the Kurdistan Communities Union have been on a hunger strike for more than 60 days.

They demand an end to the isolation of imprisoned PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan as well as the right to use Kurdish in courtrooms.

On Sunday, non-governmental organizations held a protest in Istanbul to draw attention to the hunger strike.

Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has called the hunger strike blackmail.

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