At the end of last month, Emma was honoured to be the guest speaker at the meeting of the Greater Sylhet Development & Welfare Council North East. The meeting was the culmination of a weekend of activities organized by the local Bangladeshi community for International Mother Language Day – a day established by UNESCO “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples in the world”.
Everyyear on 21 February, people of different cultures who speak different languages observe International Mother Language Day and engage in various activities to mark the day and celebrate language variety world-wide. The date was chosen by UNESCO as it commemorates the day in 1952 when the ‘language martyr’ students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bengali, as one of the two national languages of the then East Pakistan, were shot and killed
Regional secretary for the North East, Habibur Rahman Rana, said: “Bangladesh is the only country which has had to fight for its own language, which is why this is so special.”
Emma said, “Knowing how significant this event is, I was honoured to be invited. Language is integral to our identity and protecting a person’s right to use their mother tongue is fundamental to respecting and valuing the diversity of our multi-cultural community”.
This was the first time Emma had made a speech in Bengali, and she was delighted by the positive reception and the warm welcome she received.