By: Shubham Ghosh
A senior Bangladesh minister on Tuesday (21) exhorted the United Nations to formally adopt Bangla as one of its official languages, on the day when the country celebrated the Language Martyrs Day to commemorate the pioneers of the Bengali language movement.
The UN has six official languages — English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Arabic.
During the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly held last year, it adopted Bangla, Hindi and Urdu as the non-official languages following an India-sponsored resolution.
“We are again demanding that Bangla be given the status of an official language of the UN,” the ruling Awami League general secretary and senior government minister Obaidul Quader said.
The minister made this comment after paying tributes at Central Shaheed Minar here to the martyrs of the historic Language Movement by placing wreaths marking “Amar Ekushey” (My 21st).
“Let the spirit of Amar Ekushey inspire the fight against the anti-liberation forces,” Quader asserted.
Ekushey February or Ekushey, which means 21 in Bengali, commemorates the day in 1952 when students of Dhaka University launched a protest against the imposition of Urdu in what was then East Pakistan.
The campaign eventually turned out to be a larger movement for the liberation from Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh nearly two decades later in 1971.
“After the 1952 Language movement, the basis for Pakistan’s politics appeared invalid,” left-leaning scholar and political history analyst Badruddin Umar said. In 1999, the UN declared February 21 as International Mother Language Day, coinciding with Bangladesh’s Language Martyrs Day.
On September 25, 1974, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of Bangladesh, delivered a historic speech at the UN General Assembly in Bangla. The UN authorities would need $600 million per year for making a new official language functional in the UN system, state minister for foreign affairs Mohammad Shahriar Alam said.
In 2010, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Bangla said in the UN General Assembly that Bangla should be named an official United Nations language to reflect the vast number of its speakers and its heritage in literature and history.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh president Abdul Hamid offered wreaths after midnight at the Central Shaheed Minar in memory of the country’s language martyrs.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina also paid her tributes during a military ceremony here on Tuesday.
Thousands from different social, professional, academic and cultural organisations also thronged the Central Shahid Minar and offered their tributes.