Report By Humayun Kabir, from Lisbon, Portugal. Bangladesh Embassy in Lisbon observed the glorious Language Martyrs’ Day and the International Mother Language Day on 21 February 2023 with due solemnity and dignity. In the morning, Ambassador of Bangladesh to Portugal Tarik Ahsan inaugurated the day’s programme by ceremonially hoisting the National Flag and keeping it at half-mast at the Chancery in presence of all officers and members of staff of the Embassy. All the officers and members of staff wore black badges on this occasion. The main programme on that day was organized at the permanent Shaheed Minar at Campo Martires de Patria by the Embassy in collaboration with the Junta Freguesia de Arroios, the local government body. Apart from Portuguese and some foreign guests, officials & family members of the Bangladesh Embassy and a large number of expatriate Bangladeshis attended this part of the programme. Among expatriates, leaders and members of various political parties, media representatives, students, regional associations, and socio-cultural organizations were worth mentioning.
The Shaheed Minar premises had been decorated with banners, posters and alphabetic characters. Portraits of language martyrs were put on display at the premises. The programme started with the laying of floral wreaths by the Ambassador, the President of the Junta deFreguesia de Santa MariaMaiorDr. Miguel Coelho and a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal Mr Tiago Monteiro, representatives from Junta Freguesia de Arroios Dr Luís Francisco Sousa, the Embassy officials and their family members and members of the Bangladesh community in Lisbon. A one-minute silence was also observed in the memory of the martyrs. Afterwards, a round of discussion was held on the importance and significance of the Day. Speakers highlighted the contribution of the language martyrs to the evolution ofBangalee nationalism and the advancement of values of human rights, freedom and inclusion. Speaking on the occasion, the President of the Junta de Freguesia de Santa Maria MaiorDr. Miguel Coelho, while paying respect to the language martyrs, stated that his Council will continue to cooperate with Embassy and Bangladesh community in any initiative of cultural and welfare nature. The representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal Mr Tiago Monteiro, the representative of the Junta Freguesia de Arroios Dr Luís Francisco Sousa and Professor Shiv Kumar, Director of Hindi Studies from the University of Lisbon also spoke in the programme on the significance of the day.
In his speech, Ambassador Tarik Ahsan paid profound tribute to the language martyrs. He expressed deep gratitude to the then-emerging young political leader Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who led the youths in the language movement. He remarked that the 21st February 1952 is a milestone in the history of Bangladesh that inspired successive generations of Bengali nation in their legitimate struggle for their rights that ultimately led to the independence of Bangladesh in 1971. He added that the universal appeal of unmatched sacrifice for the mother language was instrumental for UNESCO to declare 21st February as International Mother Language Day in 1999. He called upon Bangladeshis in expatriate life to encourage their younger generation to practice the Bangla language, alongside the Portuguese language. He also urged them to follow martyr’s ideals of sacrifice, patriotism and self-esteem in their lives.
In a brief cultural segment towards the end of the programme, a famous poem “Mago Ora Bole” by Abu Zafar Obaidullah was recited by expatriate Bangladeshi artists. Later a song titled‘Amar BhaiyerRokteRanganoEkushe February, Ami Ki Bhulite Pari’ (My brother blood-spattered 21 February, can I forget it) was sung in chorus.