ISTANBUL- 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.

Some 700 Kurdish inmates in dozens of prisons are refusing solid food to try to exert pressure on Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government to grant greater Kurdish minority rights and better conditions for a jailed militant leader.

The inmates are consuming sugared water and vitamins that will prolong their lives and the protest by weeks, but Turkey's main medical association has warned that fatalities are possible from around 60 days into the hunger strike.

"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.

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