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Bangladeshis pay tribute to those killed during the Language Movement in 1952. At that time Pakistan intended to impose Urdu as the official language, outlawing Bengali.
On Monday Bangladeshis paid tribute at the Shaheed Minar Memorial Monument in Dhaka, to the people who were killed while protecting their mother tongue during the Bengali Language Movement. In 1952 students and citizens defied a police ban and took to the streets, to protest the Pakistani government's imposition of Urdu as the official language of Pakistan. Police fired on the protesters, killing numerous people.
Thousands came barefoot to the monument to lay flowers at the sculpture, which was erected at the place of the massacre.
[Ruba, University Student]:
"I have come here along with thousands of people barefoot to place flowers at the memorial, to show respect to those who sacrificed their lives for the Languages in 1952. They gave their lives for our language, we are very proud to speak our language."
The Pakistani police and army opened fire on the protestors... many were killed.
After more students were killed during peaceful demonstrations in the city, the Pakistani government of the time granted Bengali the status of official language in 1956.
Ever since then, Language Movement Day has been commemorated in Bangladesh.
In 1999 UNESCO declared February 21st as International Mother Language Day to "promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism."
The day has been declared a public holiday in Bangladesh and the national flag will be hoisted at half-mast.