By Sorwar Alam
ANKARA (AA) - International Mother Language Day will be celebrated with cultural events from eight countries on Feb. 21 in Ankara, according to Bangladesh Ambassador to Turkey M. Allama Siddiki on Monday.
The program is to be hosted by the Embassy of Bangladesh, the country of origin of the UNESCO-recognized international day, Siddiki told Anadolu Agency.
The day is to be celebrated in almost all UN member states under the theme "Acting together for Linguistic diversity and Multilingualism".
In 1999, UNESCO recognized Feb. 21 as International Mother Language Day following Bengali demonstrations in Pakistan against the use of Urdu as the sole national language in 1952, which resulted in several deaths following.
Siddiki said the Bengali Language Movement started in 1952 and after a long struggle the central government of Pakistan accepted Bengali as one of the state languages of Pakistan in 1956.
The Bangladesh Language movement led then west Pakistan [current Bangladesh] to the movement of independence in 1971, Siddiki added.
“The language movement was not only a movement of language, in the greater perspective, it was a kind of re-awakening the people of Bangladesh, and it was the mother of our demands for self-rights, self-rule, autonomy and finally independence,” he said.
"It is a glorious chapter in the history of the Bengali nation," he added.
Siddiki also underlined the importance and depth of Bengali literature noting that poet Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913 becoming the first laureate of the Indian subcontinent.
Around 240 million people across the world speak Bengali as their mother language, marking it the 5th largest language in the world, according to Ethnologue, a reference publication on living languages.
On Wednesday in Ankara, 10 countries, including Russia, India, Colombia, Saudi Arabia and Japan, will offer cultural performances in their own languages.
Since 2016, the Bangladesh Embassy has been celebrating the day at the National Library auditorium in Ankara.