LAYING down lives to establish an innate and sacrosanct right to a people's mother tongue is a rarity in history. We are successors to this exemplary badge of honour. Such a passionate saga of sacrifice was to soon transcend into worldwide embrace through the Unesco's declaration of Amar Ekushey as the International Mother Language Day.
In the essence though, the Language Martyrs' Day heralded a whole series of events ranging from establishing Bangla as a state language, upholding all the associated cultural rights and asserting a self-identity against stunning odds of forced impositions by the then Pakistani establishment. There followed other developments such as the education movement, 1962; the Six-Point movement for political and economic autonomy, 1966; the mass upheaval against autocratic Ayub regime, 1969; the massive 1970 election win; and denial of power to Bangabandhu leaving the people indignant over what was a predictable betrayal. Befell the genocidal crackdown culminating in the Liberation War and consequent auspicious birth of Bangladesh. A common thread running through all these events, we pay homage to our first martyrs.
Ekushey is, thus, a repository of all our inspirations and a standard-bearer of unity and secular, pluralistic ethos.
As we celebrate the day as the International Mother Language Day, the dignity of the mother tongues is emblazoned in the hearts and minds of peoples everywhere. Along with demanding respect for every language the Unesco declaration is imbued with the objective of providing strong underpinnings to protection of minority languages from extinction. Let all countries with ethnic groups bear this in mind.