International Mother Language Day
27 February 2006
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (1.53 pm)—I rise to acknowledge the fact that 21 February last week was International Mother Language Day. It is particularly pertinent, for it was on 21 February in 1952 that the Bengali-speaking people of Dacca, now the capital of Bangladesh, went out onto the streets to protest against the suppression of language by the government. Many of the protestors were injured, and some lost their lives in the fight to defend their mother language.
The Bengalis ultimately won their fight to secure their mother language in 1971 with independence. In recognition of the Bangalis’ dedication to defending their mother language and their culture, the UN declared 21 February International Mother Language Day, following the decision taken by the 30th session of UNESCO in 1999.
The Sunday before last I was pleased to attend the unveiling of the first monument to International Mother Language Day in Ashfield Park in my electorate, along with the member for Parramatta, Julie Owens; the state member for Strathfield, Virginia Judge; and the mayor of Ashfield, Rae Jones. It was also attended by His Excellency Ashraf-Ud-Doula, High Commissioner of Bangladesh; and Mr Nirmal Paul, the President of the Ekushe Academy of Australia.
Our mother language is the medium which unites the ideas, experiences and performances of individuals, families and communities. Mother language makes our cultures resilient and strong, serving as the backbone of our cultural identities. It is particularly important that this be acknowledged, and I commend all those who were involved in the event in Ashfield Park. (Time expired)
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.