Civil movement

Mother Tongue Movement Day in Bangladesh

Our mother tongue is our unique possession. In the same way, the mother tongues of others are priceless to them. In a broad sense, the day teaches us to respect people’s rights.

by Anwar A. Khan

According to Samuel Johnson, “Language is the clothing of thoughts. Without language one cannot express one’s thoughts. It must be your native language.

International Mother Language Day has a great history in Bangladesh. It was formerly known as ‘Bhasa Dibosh’, a Bengali word meaning Language Day. People observe this day by showing respect to the soul sacrificed during the language movement of 1952.

February 21 is a significant day in our national life. On this day in 1952, the brave sons of our homeland sacrificed their lives to protect the interests of our mother tongue. Since then, we observe this day as the ‘Day of the Shaheed’.

When Pakistan was created in 1947, it had two geographically distinct parts: East Pakistan (currently known as Bangladesh) and West Pakistan (currently known as Pakistan). The two sides were very different from each other in the sense of culture and language. The two parts were also separated by India in between.

In 1948, the then government of Pakistan declared Urdu as the sole national language of Pakistan, even though Bengali or Bengali was spoken by the majority of people combining East Pakistan and West Pakistan. The people of East Pakistan protested because the majority of the population were from East Pakistan and our mother tongue is Bengali. We required Bengali to be at least one of the national languages, in addition to Urdu. The demand was first raised by Dhirendranath Datta of East Pakistan on February 23, 1948, in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.

To demolish the protest, the Pakistani government has banned public meetings and gatherings. University of Dhaka students, with the support of the general public, organized massive rallies and meetings. On February 21, 1952, the police opened fire on gatherings. Abdus Salam, Abul Barkat, Rafiq Uddin Ahmed, Abdul Jabbar and Shafiur Rahman died, and hundreds more were injured. It was a rare incident in history, where people sacrificed their lives for their mother tongue.

Since then, Bangladeshis celebrate Mother Language Day on February 21 as one of our tragic days. We visit the Shaheed Minar, a monument built in memory of the martyrs and its replicas to express their deep sadness, respect and gratitude.

This signaled other important characteristics of the post-1952 phase of intense struggle to generate defiance and stimulate the development of more mass movements in the future. At the beginning of 1971, our central task was to deploy popular masses against the military government of Pakistan in a credible revolutionary offensive. Each people reiterated and refined the demands for rights and freedom and strengthened support for the cause of the establishment of Bangladesh.

The language movement of 1952 is the nascent mass movement of people of all classes and religions that could herald a people’s movement truly independent of nationalism and Bengali, being our state language. Each generation of us faces a different set of economic, political and social conditions. There is no simple formula for combating injustice and promoting democracy. But if we don’t know this story, we won’t understand how far we’ve come, how we got here and what still needs to change to make Bangladesh more livable, humane and democratic.

The Course of Our Movements explores the history, sociology and politics of Bangladesh’s struggles for freedom and social justice. The organizing class puts more emphasis on the struggle for social change. The key, of course, is to encourage students to see themselves as potential history makers, learning from the past and acquiring the skills and analytical tools to help mobilize people for action now and in the future. to come up.

The whole history of the progress of human freedom shows that all the concessions still made to its august claims are born of a serious struggle. The conflict has been exciting, stirring, all-absorbing, and to some extent silenced all other turmoil. He has to do it or he doesn’t. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate restlessness are men who want to reap without tilling the ground; they want rain without thunder or lightning. They want the ocean without the terrible roar of its many waters.

But we can be proud and joyful above all because of our triumph or the success of our just cause. February 21, 1952 is a milestone in our history of struggles to establish Bangladesh and the Bengali language as the state language. It is a solitary event in the history of the world that a sovereign and independent country was born in 1971 on the basis of a nation’s mother tongue.

February 21 taught us that this struggle can be moral or physical, and it can be both moral and physical, but it has to be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a request. It has never been done and it never will be. Find out what people will quietly submit to and you will have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong that will be imposed upon them, and these will continue until met with words or blows, or by both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those they oppress.

In common parlance, that sometimes the time has come for movements to emerge, grow and cause change. Ultimately, the movements are about real people making choices about how to use their time, talents, and resources. Our great leaders and our patriotic people did the right thing at the right time to throw off the yoke of the brutal Pakistani regime that has persecuted us for more than two decades. Howard Zinn aptly said, “Freedom and democracy don’t come from government, from above, they come from people coming together and fighting for justice.

Politicians are elected and selected, but mass movements transform societies. Judges uphold, strike down, or invent a whole new law, but mass movements drag courts, laws, and officials in their wake. Progressive and even partially successful mass movements can shift the political calculus for decades to come, improving the lives of millions. All of our struggles have been the hard-won results of protracted struggle by progressive mass movements, each of them epoch-making.

A mass movement aims to persuade the courts, politicians and other actors to follow it, not the other way around. Mass movements accomplish this by appealing to shared sets of deep and broadly shared beliefs among the people they aim to mobilize, as well as credible acts or threats of sustained, grassroots civil disobedience. All of our mass movements are politically aggressive. And that’s why we’ve been successful every time.

Mass movements are sparked by unique combinations of public opinion outraged by the movement’s core values, political expediency, and aggressive leadership. The absence of any of them may prevent a mass movement from materializing, but in our movement of February 21, 1952, the seeds of something may have been sown to eventually bring Bangladesh to the fore as a new independent and sovereign state in 1971.

A progressive mass movement is inconceivable without a prominent place for the energy and creativity of youth. The movements of 1952, 1962, 1966 and 1969 for the just causes of our people were animated and often led by young people. Any mass movement aimed at social transformation must capture the enthusiasm and energy of young people, including the willingness of young people to engage in personal risky behaviors.

A mass movement consciously aims to lead politicians, not to be led by them. Mass movements are civilly disobedient and continually maintain the credible threat of civil disobedience. The people of Bangladesh remain in remarkable and consistent agreement on political issues, a shared community of views that applies to all genders and all ages. A mass movement is an assertion of popular leadership by the people themselves. It turns politicians into followers. It really happened in our country. In fact, the mass movement of February 21, 1952 served as a prelude to the creation of Bangladesh.

It is also gratifying that in 1999, UNESCO declared February 21 “International Mother Language Day”. This declaration transformed a national celebration into an international event. We used to celebrate the day nationally because it wasn’t just important when it came to our mother tongue. On the contrary, the day had greatly influenced all the struggles of the people to establish legal rights, including our war of liberation.

But with the UNESCO declaration, a new dimension was added to the day. The lesson of the day is that we must all respect each other’s mother tongues.

Our mother tongue is our unique possession. In the same way, the mother tongues of others are priceless to them. In a broad sense, the day teaches us to respect people’s rights.

On this day, everyone gets up early and gathers barefoot in front of the martyrs monument just to pay their deepest respect to the martyrs. The govt. and different organizations organize programmers to celebrate the day. All states under the UN also celebrate February 21 as International Mother Language Day every year.

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The author is a freelance political analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh who writes about politics, political and human-centered figures, current affairs and international affairs.