October 22, 2020, 11:56 am


Al Fahad

Published:
2020-02-23 16:43:41 BdST

UNESCO celebrates Int’l Mother Language Day


The international community emphasized using the power of language for addressing the rise of conflicts, intolerance, and social tensions.
The call came from an event at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday.
The Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations, in collaboration with the Permanent Missions of Australia, Cameroon, Mexico and Trinidad, and Tobago, as well as the UN Department of Global Communications, UN Coordinator for Multilingualism and UNESCO’s New York Office celebrated the International Mother Language Day (IMLD) for the 4th consecutive year.
The venue was full to its capacity with the presence of senior diplomats of a large number of member states, UN officials, media personalities and civil society representatives, said the Bangladesh Mission on Saturday.
President of the UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande attended the event as a special guest while Permanent Representative (PR) of Bangladesh to the UN Ambassador Rabab Fatima delivered the welcome address.
PR of Trinidad and Tobago Pennelope Althea Backless, Chargé d’ affairs of Australia Tegan Brink, Chargé d’ affairs of Cameroon Zacharie Serge Raoul Nyanid, Chargé d’ affairs of Mexico Juan Sandoval Mendiolea, UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications Melissa Fleming (on behalf of the UN Secretary-General), Director of the Documentation Division of UN Department of General Assembly and Conference Management Cecilia Elizalde also spoke on the occasion.
Besides, Director and UNESCO Representative to the UN in New York Marie Paule Roudil read out the message of DG of UNESCO.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a special message on the occasion which was also readout.
Ambassador Rabab Fatima said Bangladesh is the only nation in the world to have shed blood for its mother tongue.
She said the proclamation by UNESCO in 1999, to observe 21st of February as the International Mother Language Day is the most befitting tribute to the language martyrs who made their supreme sacrifice on February 21 in 1952 to protect their mother tongue ‘Bangla’. “And this historic initiative was spearheaded under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina”.
The PR also paid rich tributes to the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for leading the language movement of 1952, culminating in our independence in 1971.
Citing the theme of this year's celebration ‘Languages without Borders’, Ambassador Fatima stated that the power of language transcends borders, and serves as a powerful tool to connect different peoples and cultures.
She urged all stakeholders to protect languages and cultures, including those facing extinction.
UN General Assembly President Tijjani said the UN has clearly provided the lead by underscoring in 2018 that linguistic diversity and multilingualism are a must for sustainable development at this time when many languages are dying at an alarming rate. “The global community must redouble its efforts to promote mother languages”.
The other discussants upheld the inalienable right of people across the globe to their mother languages and stressed the importance of linguistic and cultural diversities.
They expressed support for using mother languages to promote understanding, tolerance, dialogue and social inclusion as the catalysts for sustainable development and realizing the 2030 Agenda.
The multilingual cultural segment that followed began with the theme song -‘Amar Bhaiyer Rokte Ragano Ek-hushey February’ sung in chorus by Shri Chinmoy Group and a Bangladeshi youth choir.
Subsequently, the UN Chamber Music Society enthralled the audience by a rendition of songs and musical tunes in Bangla from the poem ‘Stream of Life’ by Rabindranath Tagore, Navajo, Creole, Sanskrit and Swahili in an orchestra setting.
At the beginning of the program, a one-minute silence was observed to pay homage to the language martyrs. A documentary on IMLD was also screened.
Members of Bangladeshi diaspora living in New York, including Freedom Fighters, US Awami League and US Awami family members, Bangladeshis working at UN, social and cultural activists also participated at the event.

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