View Full Version : 21st February - International Mother Language Day

21-02-12, 04:37
21st February is a very honorable day for the people of Bangladesh. We celebrated it as a 'Martyrdom day' previously. But since 2000, we celebrate this day as 'International Mother Language Day'. Here is a little history about this day from Wiki:

History of International Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day is an observance held annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It was first announced by UNESCO on 17 November 1999. Its observance was also formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution establishing 2008 as the International Year of Languages.

International Mother Language Day originated as the international recognition of Language Movement Day, which has been commemorated in Bangladesh since 1952, when a number of students including the students of the University of Dhaka were killed by the Pakistani police in Dhaka during Bengali Language Movement protests.

On 21 March 1948, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Governor general of Pakistan, declared that Urdu would be the only official language for both West and East Pakistan. The people of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), having mother language Bangla, started to protest against this. On 21 February 1952, students in the present day capital city of Dhaka called for a provincial strike. The government invoked a limited curfew to prevent this and the protests were tamed down so as to not break the curfew. The Pakistani police fired on the students despite these peaceful protests and a number of students were killed. Four of them were Abdus Salam, Rafiq Uddin Ahmed, Abul Barkat and Abdul Jabbar.

How 21st February became 'International Mother Language Day'

The pioneer is Rafiqul Islam with remarkable politeness and a penetrating vision. No wonder that he is a Freedom Fighter as well in the battlefield against the Pak Army and his younger brother was killed in one of the face-to-face battles. He lives in Vancouver. He is from Comilla, Bangladesh.

It all started when he came to know that some languages of the world are simply not there anymore. He felt that some beautiful plants of this colourful garden of different human languages did not suffer natural deaths; they were simply killed by criminals in different disguises. With the strength of peace, he started his lonely crusade against this monster, which would soon leave a permanent mark towards the progress of peace for mankind in this planet. And soon, he was not alone anymore. Abdus Salam was there. Now let us walk through the dates of the developments.

1. 9 January, 1998. Rafiq wrote a letter to Mr. Kofi Anan, to take a step for saving all the languages of the world from the possibility of extinction and to declare an International Mother Language Day. Rafiq proposed the date as 21st February on the pretext of 1952 killing in Dhaka on the occasion of Language Movement.

2. 20 January 1998. From the office of the Secretary General, the Chief Information Officer Mr Hasan Ferdous ( A Bangladeshi and knowledgeable writer as well) advised Rafiq to propose the same from any member country of the UNO.

3. Rafiq established "A Group Of Mother Language Of The World" With Abdus Salam, 2 English, 1 Hindi, 1 German, 1 Cantonese, 1 Kachhi speaking people. They again wrote to Mr. Anan, with a copy forwarded to Mr. David Fowler, the Canadian Ambassador to the UNO. Rafiq-Salam continued communication with Canadian Government.

4. Mid 1999. Mr Hasan Ferdous advised Rafiq-Salam to contact the Director of Language Division of UNESCO Mr.Joseph Pod (?). Mr Joseph advised to contact Anna Maria of UNESCO. Anna Maria (all through played a very strong positively active role. We are grateful to this lady) advised them to formally place the request by 5 member countries, Canada, India, Hungary, Finland and Bangladesh.

5. Our Education Minister Mr. Sadek, Education Secretary Mr.Kazi Rakibuddin (also he was the Director General for National Commission for UNESCO), Professor Kofiluddin Ahmad, Director for the same, Moshiur Rahman, the Director of the PM's Secretariat, The Bangladeshi Ambassador to France Mr. Syed Moazzem Ali, Counsellor for the same Mr. Iktiar Chowdhury, Senior Advisor to the Secretary-General of UNESCO Mr. Tozammel Huque ( Toni Huque) of USA, and many other people got involved and active. They worked tirelessly to convince 29 countries to support the proposal. Rest of the Bangladeshis worldwide never knew what a drama was going on for the fight for peace. With Rafiq-Salam, whole Bangladeshi-Vancouver kept their fingers crossed. What a group of pioneers with what a dream!

6. 9 September, 1999- the last day of submitting the proposal to UNESCO. IT DID NOT ARRIVE YET! The restless Rafiq-Salam passed sleepless nights, did not move from the telephones, for the e-mails. In Dhaka, our Prime Minister needed to sign the document and she was in the Parliament on that day. By the time she would be done with the Parliament, the dateline for the proposal would pass. It won't reach UNESCO. The whole dream and effort would go to the drain.

7. PM instructed to fax the proposal to UNESCO Paris, pending her signature. The fax reached hours before the dateline.

8. 16 November 1999. The proposal was not raised (lack of time?) in the UNESCO meeting.

9. 17 November. The proposal was raised, supported by 188 countries including Pakistan, not opposed by a single country, AND PASSED AS A DECISION. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dd/Shaheed_minar_Roehl.jpg
Shaheed Minar, or the Martyr's monument, located at Dhaka University Campus, Bangladesh, commemorates the sacrifice for Bangla Language on 21 February 1952

Source & external linksWiki Source (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Mother_Language_Day)
UNESCO homepage for International Mother Language Day (http://webworld.unesco.org/imld/)
Video Clip by Machizo Multimedia on 21 February: Spot 2008 (http://www.unnayantv.com/documentary/21february.html)
Official related page from Bangladesh (http://www.pmo.gov.bd/21february/imld_back.htm)