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"Amar Ekushey"
53 Int'l Mother Language Day Observed in Seoul
Amb. Mahmuduzzaman Hosts Seminar for the Day
Bangladesh Ambassador A. M. Mahmuduzzaman delivers his speech at his embassy in Seoul on the occasion of the International Mother Language Day. At right is Mahbub Hassan Saleh, counsellor of the embassy.

Amar Ekushey mourning usually begins at midnight of every Feb. 21 by chanting "amar bhaiyer rakte rangano ekushey february, ami ki bhulite pari."

Languages are not only an essential part of humanity's cultural heritage but also an expression of human creativity and diversity. Nations around the world are encouraged to continue the protection and revival of their rich cultural diversity by promoting languages as a means of communication, interaction, and understanding among the different peoples of the world.

The International Mother Language Day is observed every year by UNESCO's Member States and at its Headquarters to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

The Central Shahid Minar (Martyr's Monument) of Bangldaseh

International Mother Language Day was celebrated on Monday (February 21), 2005 at the embassy of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh in Seoul as well as around the world to pay homage to those who made supreme sacrifices for the cause of the Bengali Language Movement.

On the event of this international celebration, the ambassador of Peoples Republic of Bangladesh to Seoul, Major General (Ret.) A. M. Mahmuduzzaman said during a speech, "We are proud of the fact that, when over the past 500 years 4.5 percent of the total number of living languages (6, 000) have
disappeared, our language stands distinctively and will never be extinct. Every year when we celebrate Ekushey we are thankful to those brothers and countrymen who gave their lives for us, so that we, our children and children of generations can speak in Bangla and establish our identity as
Bangladeshis."

A Royal Bengal Tiger of Bangladesh

Different countries, socio-cultural organizations from different parts of the world have chalked out elaborate programs to observe the day in a befitting manner. The government of Bangladesh has also chalked out elaborate programmes to observe the day. Honorable President and Prime Minister of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh have given the message
separately due to the International Mother Language Day. The day is basically a public holiday .in Bangladesh

The present Bangladesh was a part of an undivided India. It became a province of Pakistan in 1947 and was known as East Pakistan. It wasn't the cultural similarities that were the unifying factor during the creation of the Pakistani religion. The languages of the two provinces were different; the people of West Pakistan spoke Urdu and the people of East Pakistan spoke Bangle (Bengali). The euphoria of religious identity did not last long as the practical situation became different. In the first session of the Constitutional Assembly of Pakistan in 1948 it was decided that there should be a unified language.

Bangla New Year festivities

In March 1948, Mohammud Ali Jinnah arrived in East Pakistan and declared that Urdu alone would be the state language of Pakistan. In January 1952, Khwaja Nazimuddin visited East Pakistan and in a meeting in Paltan Maidan (Palton Field) recapped Jinnah's pronouncement. In protest, the Dhaka University National Language Committee called a strike on January 30 and a meeting was held at Amtala. Throughout January and February of 1952 strikes were called in protest. A province-wide hartal was called on Feb. 21. The government declared Section 144 on Feb. 20 prohibiting all public meetings, rallies and processions. Students defied and started bringing out processions after the meeting on Feb. 21. Policemen were ordered to shoot randomly at the procession.

During the battle between the police and demonstrators, Abul Barkat, Rafiq Uddin Ahmed, Abdul Jabbar, and Abdus Salam were killed and numerous others were wounded. There was blood everywhere and on that day the color of the blood
and the color of the Krishnachura and Palash tree became one. The sky roared with the cries of hundred mothers for the loss of their sons. On the night of the 23rd of February, a Shaheed Minar (Martyr's Memorial) was constructed on the spot where the students were killed.

Picture of the Bangabandhu Bridge in Bangladesh

There is an Organization named "Mother Language Lovers of the World" in Canada. There are ten English, Kutchi, Cantonese, German, Filipino, Bengali and Hindi speaking members in that organization. In 1999, they urged the UN and UNESCO to declare the 21st of February as the International Mother Language Day. UNESCO in reply informed them that such a proposal could only be considered if it had come from any of the member-states of the National Commission for UNESCO. The organization informed the Government of Bangladesh's Ministry of Education of the matter by telephone. The honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh authorized the Education Minister to send the Bangladesh Proposal to UNESCO at the earliest date, cutting down all the procedural formalities. The Proposal was promptly sent to UNESCO.

This enabled UNESCO to adopt the historic resolution. The decision to observe the 21st of February as the International Mother Language Day was unanimously taken at the 30th General Conference of UNESCO held on November 17, 1999.

Beautiful scene of Cox's Bazar of Bangladesh

International Mother Language Day 2005 has been devoted to Braille and Sign languages. UNESCO encourages countries to focus their celebration according to this theme. An exhibition on Braille and Sign languages has been organized from February 17-23, 2005 at UNESCO's Headquarters in Paris. UNESCO, the World Blind Union and the World Federation of the Deaf have organized the exhibition jointly.

The world's nearly 6,000 languages have been celebrating the International Mother Language Day on February 21, 2005 for the 53rd time.

The spirit of Ekushey had far reaching effects - it contributed to the creation of Bengali nationalism and united the people of East Pakistan to have a separate state based on language and culture. After nine months of freedom struggle, the death of 3 million people and the rape of 200,000 women, East Pakistan gained independence from Pakistan in 1971 and became a sovereign state.

A Royal Bengal Tiger of Bangladesh

Today at least 118 countries all over the world are now celebrating Mother Language Day. It was on this historic day, 53 years ago, that the ethnic struggle for Bangala nationalism, language and literature art and culture, tradition and history began. The date of the Gregorian calendar has been converted into Bangla nomenclature as "Ekushey February."




 

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