On 21 February 2022 (Monday) the Embassy of Bangladesh in Mexico City observed the 2022 “Language Martyrs’ Day” of Bangladesh & “International Mother Language Day” in collaboration with the Senate of the Republic through the Committee on Indigenous Affairs, and the University of Iberoamericana with due solemnity. The program of the day was divided into two segments.
02. During the first segment, the proceeding of the day commenced with the hoisting of the national flag at half-mast at the tune of national anthem by Ambassador Abida Islam at the Embassy premise in the early morning. It was followed by observance of one minute of silence to pay respect to the memories of the language martyrs and reading out of messages of the Hon’ble President, Hon’ble Prime Minister, Hon’ble Foreign Minister, and Hon’ble State Minister for Foreign Affairs, given on this occasion. In the discussion session, the Embassy officials spontaneously participated and highlighted the significance of the Day.
03. Ambassador Abida Islam in her speech paid her deep respect to all the language martyrs who laid down their lives on 21st February 1952 in Dhaka to protect the dignity of the mother language “Bangla” and establish it as the state language of the country. She also recalled with profound reverence- the greatest Bengali of all times, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman - who’s role was extremely instrumental in the then language movement of February 1952. The first segment of the program ended with the screening of the theme song ‘Ekush Amar’ and a cultural performance presented by the officials of the Embassy.
04. In the second segment, the Embassy of Bangladesh in Mexico City for the first time ever collaborated with the Senate of the Republic, through the Committee on Indigenous Affairs and jointly held a virtual event discussion program, along with the University of Ibero-Americana in Mexico City highlighting the significance of the day. It was moderated by Dra. Aribel Contreras, Coordinator of Bachelors’ in International Affairs Administration. The event was screened live on the Facebook Page and the YouTube Channel of the Senate of the Republic and received instant attention and publicity from the local dignitaries.
05. In her welcoming remarks recalling the origin of 21st February, H.E. Xochitl Galvez, the Senator, and the Chair of the Committee on Indigenous Affairs, paid tribute to the language martyrs of Bangladesh and emphasized the importance of preserving the ethnic languages. She highlighted that out of 25 million indigenous Mexicans only 6.5% could spoke in their native languages and among 68 indigenous languages, at least six are at a risk of extinction. Hence, the theme of this year’ International Language was most appropriate to help surviving these languages which are on the verge of extinction .. Highlighting the commencement of the International Decade of the Indigenous Language from 2022-2032, she elaborated the efforts of the commission in fostering and preserving endangered indigenous languages across Mexico.
06. It was followed by observing one minute of silence in honour of the language martyrs and then the message of the Director-General of UNESCO was read out by the Counsellor of the Embassy Shahanaz Ranu. Later, a video was screened on the background of the 21st February and its glorious recognition by UNESCO in 1999.
07. Ambassador Abida Islam in her remarks paid homage to the language martyrs of Bangladesh. She then elaborated on the initiatives of the Government of Bangladesh in protecting and preserving the mother languages of the small ethnic minority groups in Bangladesh. She also stated that Bangladesh Government is working relentlessly in order to provide these communities the access to education in their mother tongue in order to attain sustainable future for them.
08. The Director-General of Asia Pacific Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico, Ms. Claudia Franco Hijuelos in her remarks thanked the Embassy of Bangladesh in Mexico City for taking this initiatives and opined, through this event, both the countries are promoting a new phase in their relationships. She pointed out that Mexican Government was very keen for the protection, conservation and dissemination of the 68 indigenous languages of Mexico along with the Spanish language and highlighted the efforts of the ‘Institute of Mexicans Abroad’ of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to promote Spanish among its diaspora in the United States of America. She also viewed that the theme of this year would make people conscious of their cultural identity.
09. Maestro Juan Gregorio Regino, the Director-General of the National Institute of Indigenous Languages (INALI) -represented by Almadina Cárdenas director of Language policy- underlined the efforts of the institute to promote the inclusion of indigenous languages as official ones in Mexico through constitutional reform as well as its challenges. She emphasized the importance in investing in language infrastructure and technology, research, implementation of trilingual education in Mexico to strengthen linguistic sovereignty of indigenous people.
10. Ambassador of New Zealand H.E. Sara Meyland elaborated on the status of Mawri Language in her country whereas the Ambassador of South Africa H.E. Dennis Thokozani Dlomo spoke about the possession of land and its influence on indigenous language and culture. They also made a strong emphasis of maintaining cultural heritage through language as both the countries have a rich lingual diversity in their respective countries.
11. Referring to the prediction of UNESCO that every two weeks, a language dies taking all its cultural heritage with it, Senator & President of the Board of the Directors of the Senate of the Republic H.E. Olga Maria Sanchez Cordero stated that it is our responsibility to preserve the language.
12. Mexican voice actor and singer Diego Valenzuela sang the theme song of 21st February in the Spanish Language. At least 7 videos were projected during the event presenting the cultural diversity of indigenous communities across Mexico highlighting the importance of cultural heritage and its impacts on everyday life. This program was helpful in disseminating the spirit of language movement of Bangladesh among the multilingual audience of Mexico.