Home | About the site | History | Documents
 
 
 

Behind the Declaration of
International Mother Language day

 
 

The UNESCO designated February 21st as the International Mother Language Day to be observed globally in recognition of the martyrs who fought to establish the rightful place of Bangla language. The proclamation was unanimously adopted in November 1999 through a resolution at the plenary meeting of the UNESCO at its headquarters in Paris. The resolution declared that, ‘21st February is proclaimed as International Mother Language Day to commemorate the martyrs who sacrificed their lives on this very day in 1952’.

The resolution was proposed by the government of Bangladesh at the initiative of Sheikh Hasina the then and present Honorable Prime Minister of the country. It is a great tribute and glowing homage paid by the international community to the language martyrs of Bangladesh and the language movement. The genesis of the historic Language Movement that started in September 1947 with the students in the vanguard backed by intellectuals, cultural activists and patriotic elements was the first spurt of Bengali nationalistic upsurge culminating in the sanguinary events of 21 February 1952. It expanded into a movement of people’s rights and democratic processes, finally leading to the war of Liberation in 1971 and creation of an independent state of Bangladesh.

The UNESCO in its resolution enunciates – ‘the recognition was given bearing in mind that all moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness about linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue’.

In the new millennium 188 countries around the world would initiate the observance of 21st February as the International Mother Language Day. It is believed to have generated the collective campaign towards bridging the language, culture and communication gaps.

The historic 21st February has, thus, assumed new dimension and dynamics to foster better understanding and connection with the concept of global citizens. The sacrifices of Rafiq, Salam, Jabbar, Barkat and other martyrs as well as of those tortured and repressed by the then authoritarian government of Pakistan for championing the cause of their mother tongue have been venerated by this acknowledgement.

We express our sincere appreciation and gratification to the following countries; Banin, Bhahama, Balaroush, Comoros, Chili, Dominic Republic, Egypt, Gambia, Honduras, Italy, Iran, Micronesia, Oman, The Philippines, Papua Newgini, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russian Federation, Sir Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Surinam, Slovakia, Vanuatu, Indonesia, India, Ivoricost , Lithuania, Malaysia that supported the proposal of the government of Bangladesh in favor of 21st February as the International Mother Language Day. 

Rafiqul Islam, Abdus Salam, Albart Vinzon, Carman Cirstobal, Zason Morin, Susan Hozinos, Dr. Calvin Chow, Nasrin Islam, Rinata Martins and Karuna Zoshi – felicitations for the commendable work. We thank you for your efforts without which this declaration would not have been possible

This acknowledgement would remain incomplete without mentioning Mr. C. M. Tarek Reza for his kind support and assistance, Prof. Rafiqul Islam for contributing some rare historical pictures and to all other unidentified, unnamed collectors and photographers who have collected/photographed the extremely important pictures and documents that substantiate the contents of this site and have enriched it in the process.