This year’s International Mother Language Day is being marked by a month-long exhibit outside the United Nations in New York.
A sculpture designed by Khurshid Alam Saleem and made by Mrinal Haque features the four language movement martyrs and a mother figure symbolising liberty and the importance of preserving identity and language for all peoples.
It is a reminder that the Bengali language movement of Amar Ekushey being commemorated by the nation today has universal significance.
There is much we can still all do to live up to the promise and spirit of Ekushey.
As a society which still has high rates of adult illiteracy, we must accomplish more to improve literacy.
To help our culture flourish in an age of ever-increasing global interaction, we must also do more to interact with and promote our linguistic culture on the international stage.
We also need to do more to acknowledge linguistic minorities within Bangladesh. Although small as a percentage of the total population, Bangladesh’s linguistic minorities are highly diverse, and make a rich contribution to our nation’s heritage.
Non-Bengali communities and indigenous peoples living in CHT face major obstacles in promoting and keeping their heritage alive and vibrant. They need more support for initiatives to promote their native languages, and deserve help in protecting and promoting their culture.
Supporting language in all its diversity is important to give life to the call for recognition of people’s basic rights made by the Language Movement martyrs.
Recognition of and support for minority languages matter not only to protect the cultural heritage and rights of indigenous and minority communities, but also to help enrich Bangladeshi culture as a whole.