Bengali language movement an inspiration for preserving world languages

Ansar Ahmed Ullah

World’s community representatives said that Bengali language movement & the International Mother Language Day is an inspiration to preserve mother languages of different regions of the world.

The representatives were speaking at a high profile commemorative event to observe Bengali language Martyrs Day and celebrate International Mother Language day 2019 organised by the Bangladesh High Commission in London and the UK National Commission for UNESCO on 21 February held at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, West London.

Commonwealth Secretary General, British MPs, Member of European Parliament, representatives of British Foreign and Commonwealth office, UNESCO Commission and leading members of the British and Bengali diaspora were present at the event.

Apart from speeches, there were also different cultural performances of different ethnic linguistic groups of different countries and Bangladesh.

High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem welcomed the guests with her opening remarks. Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland, UK UNESCO Commission Secretary General James Bridge, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization Kitack Lim, Member of European Parliament Jean Lambert, Foreign Affairs Select Committee Chair Tom Tugendhat, MP, British Parliamentarian Keith Vaz MP, Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions Stephen Timms MP and representative of the British Foreign and Commonwealth office, Daniel Pasha, spoke on the importance of protecting native languages of each region of the world. Oxford University Linguistic Department Professor Aditi Lahiri, Ekushey’ s song composer Abdul Gaffar Choudhury and UK Awami League president Sultan Shariff also addressed the event.

The High Commissioner said that on 21st February blood was shed for the right to use Bengali language but today this day is for the world community as the International Mother Language Day. Every year this day will remind the world community of the urgency to protect languages of the world.

Speaking at the chief guest, Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland said, the motivation UNESCO’s announcement of 21 February as the International Mother Language Day is to inspire to protect and preserve native languages that are under threat of extinction. She said Commonwealth will work jointly to protect the indigenous languages of Commonwealth countries. Patricia Scotland recalled with respect the sacrifices of the Bengali students in protecting the language and said the language movement has also inspired the Bengalis in every subsequent struggle. The Commonwealth Secretary-General, in her speech, urged every country in the world to protect their native languages.

UNESCO’s James Bridge said they want to use International Mother Language Day as a motivation for protecting languages under threat of extinction in different parts of the world. He said the United Nations has this year as International Year of Indigenous Languages to create awareness of indigenous languages around the world. He said UNESCO wants to use Bangladesh’s experience in defending language during this year’s celebrations.

Keith Vez MP and Stephen Timms MP called upon the world community to come forward with a unified programme to protect the mother tongue of every region of the world.

The representative of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Daniel Pasha said, on this day, we have the opportunity to celebrate the diversity of languages. Language is the key component of all our cultural heritage. In his speech, he stressed the need for a coordinated initiative to protect every indigenous language in the world.

Diplomats from Morocco, Sudan, Indonesia, Bahrain, Nepal, Bahamas, Belarus, Myanmar, Dominican Republic, Iraq, Jordan, South Korea, and Tunisia attended the programme.

A documentary on the language movement was screened at the event and artists from different nationalities performed songs and dances in a multi-lingual colourful cultural soirée. Artistes from Cyprus, Costa Rica, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Russia, Sri Lanka, Wales and host country Bangladesh participated in the cultural event.

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