Bangladesh High Commissioner to UK Saida Muna Tasneem called upon the Mayor of London to declare 21 February as the "London Multilingual Day" during an event on Monday to commemorate the Language Martyrs' Day and the International Mother Language Day.
Bangladesh High Commission, in partnership with UK National Commission for UNESCO, organised the high-profile event under the theme, "Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities".
High Commissioner Saida Muna said, "I call upon the Mayor of London for announcing the 21st February as London's Multilingual Day to promote multilingualism, greater intercultural harmony and understanding amongst over 300 multi-ethnic communities that enriched the cultural landscape of Greater London."
She noted that Bangla is the 3rd most spoken language in Greater London, therefore, the High Commission would facilitate Bengali language learning to the new generation of British-Bangladeshis.
Paying rich tribute to 1952 language martyrs and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the high commissioner recalled that according to BBC Bangabandhu was the first Bengali to take Bangla at the United Nations General Assembly; and his daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is now carrying forward the legacy by internationalising the Bangla Language Martyr's Day as International Mother Language Day as well as advocating for recognising Bangla as an official language of the UN.
The envoy also called upon the British Council to support conservation of more than 7000 mother languages at the International Mother Language Institute in Dhaka, established by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland, UK Ambassador to UNESCO Laura Davies, Turkish Ambassador to the UK Ümit Yalçın, Ambassador of the Republic of North Macedonia Ms Aleksandra Miovska, Ambassador of Cuba to the UK Bárbara Montalvo Álvarez, Ambassador of Georgia to the UK Sophie Katsarava, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to the UK Saroja Sirisena, Ambassador of Indonesia to the UK, Dr Desra Percaya, Maya Sivagnanam, Deputy Director of the British Foreign and Development Office, Amish Tripathi, Director of the Nehru Centre in London, Michael Connolly, Director of the British Council, Lyricist of Amar Ekushey theme song and eminent columnist Abdul Gaffar Choudhury, Bangladesh Liberation War Action Committee UK veteran Sultan Mahmud Sharif and the co-partner of the High Commission's commemorative event, the Chief Executive of the UK National Commission for UNESCO James Bridge spoke at the event.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland QC paid rich tributes to the language martyrs and Bangabandhu and said: "The 21st February is a great day for the international community to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity, which also reminds me of my Dominican roots and mother tongue, the Creole language."
UK National Commission for UNESCO's Secretary-General James Bridge cited the UNESCO-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Award as an opportunity for recognition of outstanding global initiatives of young people engaged in culture and the creative economy. He said that the award can spread the message of language and cultural diversity within UNESCO's multilateral forum where Bangladesh is playing a leading role.
Ambassador of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to UNESCO Laura Davies spoke about various initiatives of UNESCO to promote multilingualism, including the world atlas of 1863 languages while emphasizing promoting technology to foster multilingual learning and make local dialect a shared heritage.
A multi-lingual cultural soirée comprising songs, dance and poetry recitations was performed by different high commissions and embassies in London, highlighting language and cultural diversity and paying tribute to the language martyrs.
A floral wreath was placed by the High Commissioner and embassy officers along with the guests of the event at a symbolic Shaheed Minar and a one-minute silence was observed in honour of the language martyrs.
The Day's programme began in the morning with the hoisting of the national flag at half-mast at the chancery by the High Commissioner along with the officers of the mission.
Later, messages issued on the occasion by the President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and State Minister for Foreign Affairs were read out by the mission's officers.
A special dua was offered for the great language martyrs, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu and his family and all the martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the Great War of Liberation; and for peace and continued progress of Bangladesh. Officers and employees of the high commission participated in it.