As we move forward in the true spirit of Ekushey, let us treat all people with proper respect and dignity
Sixty-seven years ago, a group of students and activists gathered around the Dhaka University premises to voice their right to speak their own language -- Bangla.
It was a historic moment which led to the recognition of Bangla as our official language as demanded by the people -- and nearly half a century later, February 21 was officially proclaimed by Unesco as the International Mother Language Day.
But we must remember that Amar Ekushey represents something that goes beyond the fight for Bangla.
It is a day to celebrate the freedom of one’s own language, whatever it may be, and to remember how the Language Movement was inextricably tied to the hopes and aspirations of the people of Bangladesh for an independent nation.
More than 40 indigenous languages are spoken within the borders of Bangladesh -- many communities speak a language other than Bangla at home, and February 21 is the right time to acknowledge and fully respect the diversity of languages in our country.
An attempt had been made by the government to introduce textbooks in indigenous languages, but so far, those initiatives have been met with questionable success.
But going beyond language, there is the question of how we take care of our minority communities, who have suffered so much -- they have seen their land grabbed, communities assaulted, and culture in risk of being wiped out. Nobody deserves to be treated this way.
As we move forward in the true spirit of Ekushey, let us treat all people, regardless of language, ethnicity, and mother tongue, with proper respect and dignity.