In 1999, UNESCO declared the first celebration of International Mother Tongue, a move subsequently recognized by UN General Assembly in 2008.
This declaration had particular resonance in Bangladesh, recognizing, as it does, the severe breach of human rights and social marginalization caused by the suppression of mother languages.
Following the partition of India in 1947, and the creation of the state of Pakistan in two parts, East, and West, the Governor General of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, declared that the official language of the State would be Urdu, the mother tongue, in fact, of West Pakistan, who happened to represent a minority of the total population of the new nation.
By 1952, resentment in East Pakistan at this suppression of their native language had reached such a pitch that, on 21st February of that year, students at Dhaka University called a strike. Despite the peaceful nature of their protest, police were ordered to open fire, and a number died.
This was the inspiration of the UNESCO declaration, that has recognized the severe breach of fundamental humans rights that such language suppression has caused throughout history.
For that reason, particularly, in Bangladesh the day is observed with great seriousness.