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Make Bengali an official language, Sheikh Hasina tells UN

September 28, 2010 12:06 IST

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has told the United Nations General Assembly that Bangla should be named as an official UN language to reflect the vast number of its speakers and its heritage in literature and history.

Sheikh Hasina told the UNGA's annual high-level segment that an international movement to celebrate the use of mother languages was growing stronger every year. 'Since Bangla (also known as Bengali) is spoken by nearly 300 million people worldwide, has a rich history in literature, history and in other fields, our Parliament adopted a resolution requesting the UN to declare Bangla as one of its official languages,' she said. "I fervently appeal to you all for acceptance of our very legitimate request.'

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation observes International Mother Language Day on February 21, commemorating the day in 1952 when students demonstrating peacefully for Bengali to be made an official language of then East Pakistan were shot dead by armed forces.

Bangla or Bengali is spoken by an estimated 300 million people worldwide.

Recalling the August 14, 1975 terrorist act that killed her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation, as well as 18 family members, the prime minister assured that Bangladesh would not tolerate terrorism on its soil.

"I want to unequivocally state that terrorism will not be allowed on the soil of Bangladesh," she said, adding that the country was a party to all United Nations Conventions related to terrorism. She said the country's policy against terrorism and love for peace had led her to negotiate the 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord.

There was no reference in her speech though about terrorists finding sanctuary in the country and infiltrating India, an issue that has consistently been raised by New Delhi in bilateral talks with Bangladesh.

Suman Guha Mozumder In New York