INTERNATIONAL DESK: Bangladesh Embassy in Seoul, South Korea observed Language Martyrs’ Day and International Mother Language Day with due respect on Sunday.
The Bangladesh Ambassador Abida Islam along with the Head of Chancery of the Embassy paid homage to the Language Martyrs by placing a floral wreath at the Shaheed Minar at the Multicultural Park in Ansan city at the dawn of 21st February.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the host government’s social distancing measures, the members of the Bangladeshi community were discouraged to take part in the early morning procession to this Language Martyrs’ Monument.
It was followed by the hoisting of the National Flag at half-mast by the Ambassador at the Embassy premises with the presence of Embassy officials. The participation in the event was limited to the officials of the Embassy.
The Ambassador then paid floral tribute to the sculpture of the Father of the Nation inside the Chancery. Later, verses from the Holy Scriptures, and messages from the President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Director General of UNESCO were read out.
A one-minute silence was observed to honor the language martyrs. A documentary on the Language Martyrs’ Day and International Mother Language Day was screened which was followed by an open discussion on the significance of the day.
During the discussion session, the discussants paid profound tribute to those who laid down their lives to establish Bangla as the State Language of the country. The discussants also expressed their determination to work together to uphold the dignity and respect of the mother tongue.
Ambassador Abida Islam paid rich tribute to the language martyrs who laid down their lives on 21st February 1952 in Dhaka to protect the dignity of our mother language “Bangla” and established it as the ‘State Language’ of the country.
She recalled with deep reverence the greatest Bengali of all times, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman under whose charismatic leadership we attained our independence in 1971 through a systematic struggle of self-autonomy from 1952 to 1971.
Abida Islam also highlighted the different initiatives of the government in the promotion of multilingualism in line with the theme of International Mother Language Day this year titled “Fostering multilingualism for inclusion in education and society”.
To mark the Day the Embassy, in collaboration with the Korean National Commission for UNESCO (KNCU) held a webinar actively participated by the Ambassadors, members of the diplomatic corps, senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea and from the KNCU on February 19.
At the outset of the webinar, a one-minute silence was observed in honor of the language martyrs followed by the renowned song of 21st February ‘Amar Vaier Rokte Rangano Ekushe February’.
A short documentary was screened focusing on the similarities of the Language Martyrs’ Day and Hanguel Day of South Korea. In addition, the Embassy introduced two expatriate Bangladeshi nationals, who were accorded mementos by the Embassy for their contributions in promoting Bangla language among the Korean students and Bangladeshi children residing in South Korea.
Ambassador Abida Islam in her welcome remarks paid homage to the greatest Bengali of all times, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and all the language martyrs- who laid down their lives to establish Bangla as the state language.
Stating about the duel celebration of Mujib Year and the 50th Anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence in this year, she focused on the charismatic leadership of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman which eventually culminated in the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.
Underlining the spirit of 21st February she said that it now resonates in the hearts of the people of all around the world after its recognition as the International Mother Language Day by UNESCO, 21 years ago with an aim to pay homage to the diversity of language, culture, and heritage.
Underlining the theme of the International Mother Language Day as ‘Fostering multilingualism for inclusion in education and society’, Ambassador Islam called for the concerted efforts of the global community in promoting multilingualism, which is being threatened by marginalization.
The Secretary-General of the Korean National Commission for UNESCO (KNCU) H.E. Mr. Han, Kyung Koo, in his remark, put forward the initiatives of the two Koreas in preserving and promoting the indigenous languages of the two Koreas as well as the compilation of a unified dictionary of the Korean Language with the support of experts from both South and North Korea.
Referring to the similar history and experience of colonialism as well as struggle in defence of native language of both Bangladesh and Korea, Director-General for Asia and Pacific Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea Kim Junghan emphasized the preservation and promotion of the mother languages. He opined that language liberates and empowers people and represents identity which is duly reflected in the history of both the countries.
Emphasizing the promotion of multilingualism, he called for the need for multilateralism, co-existence, and solidarity which are the core values of the International Mother Language Day.
Following the speeches of the dignitaries, the Ambassadors of Timor-Leste, India, Papua New Guinea, and South Africa spoke on the occasion and paid their rich tribute to the language martyrs of 1952.
It was followed by the remarks of Director General of International Mother Language Institute, Dhaka Professor Dr. Jinnat Imtiaz Ali, and Secretary-General of the Gyeoremal-Keunsajeon Ms. Mo Soon Young appraised the audience about the initiatives of their respective governments on the promotion of multilingualism.
Describing different initiatives of the government Ambassador of Timor-Leste H.E. Adalgisa Maria SOARES XIMENES stated that her country is committed to preserve and promote its diverse culture and languages. She said her country is predominantly a multilingual country with a population of 1.4 million with 16 different mother tongues other than official languages-Portuguese and Tetum making this small country rich in culture and languages.
Sripriya RANGANATHAN, Ambassador of the Republic of India, in her remarks, highly appreciated the initiatives of Bangladesh for making the world understand the importance of mother language and multilingualism.
Affirming that India has 21 official languages, she said that India through its own mechanism has made it possible for the people of its diverse traditions and cultures to remain in touch with the respective mother tongues and traditional cultures while at the same time communicating with each other through the link languages-Hindi and English respectively.
Daughter of Nelson Mandela, and Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa Zenani N. DLAMINI, in her remarks, pointed out the striking similarities of language movements between Bangladesh and South Africa by referring to the ‘Youth Day’ of her country on 16 June when the people of her country also sacrificed their lives over language.
Ambassador DLAMINI, then reflected in details about her personal experience of struggle against the apartheid as well as in establishing different mother tongues as official languages of South Africa.
She also mentioned that after the establishment of democracy by her father Nelson Mandela, there exists eleven official languages in South Africa against only two official languages-English and Afrikaans during apartheid-era South Africa. In addition, now the national anthem of South Africa is sung in five official languages out of eleven.
Ambassador of Papua New Guinea H.E. Andrew YAMANEA, in his remark, stated that Papua New Guinea is culturally and linguistically one of the diverse countries on the planet where 800 indigenous languages are spoken which is one-third of the world’s languages.
He expressed concerns as some of the indigenous languages in Papua New Guinea are in danger of extinction due to the migration of people internally and externally and elaborated on the various initiatives of his governments including the adoption of legislation to promote bilingual education and preserve different languages in the country.
Professor Dr. Jinnat Imtiaz Ali, Director General, International Mother Language Institute, Bangladesh reflected on the different initiatives of the Government of Bangladesh in preserving the cultural heritage and the tradition of small ethnic communities in the country including introduction of mother tongue-based multilingual education by publishing textbooks for some of these groups.
Mo Soon-young, Secretary-General of the Joint Board of South and North Korea for the Compilation of Gyeoremal-Keunsajeon appraised the audience about an ongoing project of integration of South and North Korean languages and cultures and preserving and developing the Korean ethnic language by compiling Gyeoremal-Keunsajeon, a unified Korean language dictionary.
She also informed that since 2004, both sides have held 25 joint meetings in total and agreed on over 307,000 entries.
During the cultural segment of the event, the cultural performances of different nationalities including Bangladesh, India, and Korea were screened.
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