21st February: International Mother Language Day.

21 February was proclaimed the International Mother Language Day by UNESCO on 17 November 1999. Its observance was also formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution establishing 2008 as the International Year of Languages.

The International Mother Language Day is being observed every year in UNESCO’s Member States and at its Headquarters to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism

On that day of 21 February 1952, corresponding to 8 Falgun 1359 in the Bangla calendar, a number of students campaigning for the recognition of Bangla as one of the state languages of Pakistan were killed when police fired upon them. [2]

Mohammed Ali Jinnah(the Governor general of Pakistan) declared that the Urdu will be the only language for both west and east Pakistan at a public meeting on 1948, 21 March. The people of the East Pakistan (now Bangladesh, whose main language is Bengali) started to protest against this.

A student meeting on 21 February called for a province-wide strike. But the government invoked Section 144 on 20 February. The student community at a meeting on the morning of 21 February agreed to continue with their protest but not to break the law of Section 144. Even then the police opened fire and killed the students.

  • The Linguapax Prize is presented annually on International Mother Language Day.
  • UNESCO sets the theme for each International Mother Language Day and holds related events at its headquarters in Paris on or around 21 February each year.
  • In 2008, the International Year of Languages will be formally launched on International Mother Language Day
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