The invaluable assets of language and culture

Rizal Faisal

The spirit of Language Martyr’s Day is of great importance, as language shapes and is a component of culture. This was shared by High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Brunei Darussalam Air Vice Marshal (Rtd) Mahmud Hussain.

A ceremony was held to observe the Language Martyr’s Day on February 21 at the chancery in Brunei Darussalam, where the high commissioner heads the Bangladeshi mission to Brunei Darussalam.

The high commissioner highlighted the role of the father of the nation of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, under whose legendary leadership Bangladesh attained independence based on language, culture and distinct identity.

At the observance day, the high commissioner also shared messages by the Bangladesh Prime Minister, President, Foreign Minister and State Minister on marking the day.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina shared the history of the start of the road to independence for Bangladesh’s government today in remembrance.

High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Brunei Darussalam Air Vice Marshal (Rtd) Mahmud Hussain led a march in remembrance of the martyrs. PHOTOS: RAHWANI ZAHARI
A poster and a portrait of Bangabandhu Mujibur Rahman at the event

In 1948, the State Language Movement Council was constituted comprising Tamuddin Majlish, Student League and other student bodies as per Bangabandhu Mujibur Rahman’s proposal.

The council called a general strike on March 11 that year to realise the demand for recognising Bangla as the state language. Bangabandhu Mujibur Rahman along with a number of student leaders were arrested on the day in front of the Secretariat. They were released on March 15 followed by Bangabandhu’s chairing of a public meeting at Amtola in the Dhaka University Campus on March 16.

The movement for the demand of the mother tongue spread all over the country. However, Bangabandhu’s struggles had not ended, where he was again arrested on September 11, 1948 from Faridpur. He was released on February 21, 1949 only to be arrested again on April 19. He was released at the end of July that year, followed by his incarceration to jail on October 14.

His undaunted inspiration from inside the jail provided new impetus to the people’s movement. In continuation of the movement, the language martyrs sacrificed their lives on February 21, 1952 while breaking Section 144 imposed by the rulers.

President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Md Abdul Hamid, in joining to mark their country’s martyrs, mentioned that the aim of the language movement was to establish the right of their mother tongue as well as to protect self-entity, cultural distinction and language.

Being a source of ceaseless inspiration, Amar Kushey (Immortal Shaheed Day) inspired and encouraged them to a great extent to achieve the right to self-determination and struggle for freedom and war for liberation. With the bloodshed passages of the Language Movement, the President said that they achieved the recognition of Bangla as their mother tongue and consequently, attained their long-cherished independence under the charismatic leadership of the greatest Bangalee of all time, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Mujibur Rahman in 1971.

“Language and culture are invaluable assets of human races,” added the President, while mentioning the threat of extinction of some languages of the world due to multifarious causes including poverty, imperialism, commercialism, propagation of religion, immigration, motivated financial and human assistances, lack of proper exercise of languages, decline of birth rates of some races and nations, degradation of the environment and satellite culture.

He added that “the extinct of language means to disappear of culture, nation and civilisation on earth,” and to preserve this “the people of the world will have to raise their voice for the preservation of defunct languages along with flourishing respective mother tongue and culture”.

“Observing the International Mother Language Day, I firmly believe, will play a positive role in attaining the sustainable future through multilingual education,” the President said.

Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen said that the ‘Immortal Ekushey’ of 1952 is now observed as the ‘International Mother Language Day’ all over the world from the timely initiative and leadership of the daughter of Bangabandhu, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, with the sincere efforts of two expatriate Bengalis which resulted in the UNESCO’s conferring February 21 and Bengali with the glorious recognition in 1999.

State Minister Md Shahriar Alam, on marking the auspicious day, joined in to pay tribute to the Father of the Nation and showed his gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

He shared Bangladesh’s developments, where he mentioned that under the leadership of the Prime Minister, Bangladesh has been working relentlessly to transform the country into a middle income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041.

“Currently Bangladesh is marching forward with 8.15 per cent GDP growth rate. Along with economic growth, Bangladesh has become a role model in poverty alleviation, women empowerment, climate change and curbing child mortality rate,” he said stating that all these were made possible by the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina over the last decade.

The high commission’s marking of the day on February 21 itself at the Brunei Darussalam chancery could not get any more patriotic, with members of the high commission and Bangladeshi community in attendance observing with the lowering of the flag at half-mast, laying of a wreath on a monument of a martyr and a march around the compound led by the Bangladesh High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam.