Muhammad Imran, Bangladesh Ambassador to UAE. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: International Mother Language Day reminds the humanity of its responsibility to protect small languages across the world, a top Bangladeshi diplomat said here on Tuesday.

“Languages spoken by a limited number of people are part of the intangible heritage of the humanity. They should survive and we have to protect them,” Mohammad Imran, Bangladeshi Ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News.

The day commemorates martyrs of Bangladesh’s Bhasha Andolan (language movement), who laid down their lives on February 21, 1952, to establish Bangla (Bengali) as a state language.

In recognition of the sacrifices they made, the day was declared the International Mother Language Day by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) on November 17, 1999.

At a commemoration ceremony at the Bangladesh Embassy in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, the ambassador hoisted the national flag half-mast to pay respect to the martyrs.

Imran said the martyrs of the language movement still inspired Bangladeshis to fight injustice and oppression. “We know the pain of people who laid down their lives for a cause and their loved ones. Therefore, we realise the value of sacrifice of Emirati martyrs who lost their lives for the peace in the region.”

On the occasion, Imran also paid tributes to Emirati martyrs, especially Juma Mohammad Abdullah Al Kaabi, UAE Ambassador to Afghanistan, and his colleagues who died in a terrorist attack in Afghanistan recently. “This shows nobody is immune to violence and we all must fight terrorism together,” the envoy said. Around 300 Bangladeshi community members attended the event at the embassy in Abu Dhabi. A similar event was held at the Bangladeshi Consulate General in Dubai also.

At a separate ceremony at Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia School in Abu Dhabi, pupils, teachers and parents paid floral tributes to a replica of ‘Shahid Minar’ (martyrs monument) established at Dhaka University in Bangladesh. A Bangladeshi workshop owner in the capital made the replica of the monument, using steel and aluminium frames.

Pupils sang patriotic songs and performed dance programmes. The ambassador distributed prizes to winners of an essay competition held on the occasion.