Every nation has some achievements that they can take pride in. Our language day is our national event and achievement. But the matter of pride for us is that this national event has crossed our national boundary and become universalized. The International Mother Language Day is the recognition of our language movement and the heroic sacrifices of the language martyrs by the international community. Now, after the recognition, our language day is observed globally as International Mother Language Day.
Historical Background: February 21st is observed as the language day. This day is the culmination of a series of protest and events that took place between 1948 and 1952. After the independence of Pakistan the ruling authority of West Pakistan recognized Urdu as the state language of Pakistan in 1948 and tried to impose it on the Bangla-speaking majority people. Not only that they also denied the demand of the Bangalis for the recognition of Bangla as the state language.
In 1952 protests erupted throughout East Pakistan against the imposition of Urdu and for the recognition of Bangla as the state language of Pakistan. The ruling authority imposed section 144 all over the country as the protest grew stronger. However, when students, politicians and general masses brought out a procession in Dhaka University area defying the section 144, the police charged fire on the procession. As a result, Rafiq, Jabbar, Salam, Barkat, Shafiq met martyrdom. Finally, Bangla was recognized as the state language. Since then, the day is observed throughout the country with solemnity and due homage.
International Observance of the day: On 17 November 1999, UNESCO, a specialized organization of United Nations (UN) recognized our language movement and sacrifices of the Martyrs. They declared that UNESCO would observe the day internationally. Since 2000, the International Mother Language Day is being observed all over the world. The recognition by the UNESCO and the observance of the day by the international community has increased our national glory and uplifted the sacrifices of our language martyrs. Through UNESCO recognition, our language day has got international status.
Significance of the recognition: The recognition of our language day and the proclamation of the observance of the day internationally are very significant. UNESCO’s recognition is not simply recognition of our language movement, but it recognizes that it is the birth right of every nation or race to speak in their own language. The proclamation also said that this recognition would help to preserve all the languages of the world and that diversity of languages is important to maintain cultural identity and distinction.
Importance of the day: Since 1952, the 21st February is observed as the language day in our country. We remember our martyrs, their sacrifices and pay homage to the heroic souls who laid down their lives for the cause of our mother tongue. We have erected monuments (known as Shahid Minar, in Bengali – শহীদ মিনার) in remembrance of them and on 21st February we offer flower wreaths and stand silent in honors of them.
However, the importance of 21st February and its observance lie elsewhere. It is a sow the seed of our liberation war. And importantly, the language movement teaches us that we have to rise for achieving our rights, for establishing our place of honors and dignity in the world. It teaches us not to bow down to any oppression. It also inspires us to sacrifice our most treasured thing for the sake of the country. So the importance of International Mother Language Day is very significant.
Finally we are the only nation of the world to sacrifice lives for mother tongue International Mother Language Day is a glorious recognition of our history and our achievement. International Mother Language Day highlights the importance of linguistic identity and variety. We are really proud that we have achieved something that has got global acceptance.