In 1999, UNESCO declared that 21 February be regarded as International Mother Language Day. To mark the 19th celebration of this day, the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office and ECO Cultural Institute (ECI) held a cultural event in Tehran with the cooperation of various embassies.
In the opening speech, H.E. Dr. Mohammad Mahdi Mazaheri, President of ECO Cultural Institute, spoke about importance of languages for identity and the transmission of cultural heritage.
Echoing that message, Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, said: “A language is far more than just a means of communication. It is the very condition of our humanity. Our values, our beliefs and our identity are embedded within it. It is through language that we transmit our experiences, our traditions and our knowledge. The diversity of languages reflects the incontestable wealth of our imaginations and ways of life.”
She talked about UNESCO’s global efforts to preserve linguistic diversity. “Each language offers a unique testimony of its civilization’s cultural genius and contributions to the world’s heritage – not to mention its crucial role in building intercultural dialogue, reconciliation and peace.”
H.E. Mr. A.K.M. Majibur Rahman Bhuiyan, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, then delivered a speech about the importance of the International Mother Language Day to the people of Bangladesh.
H.E. Mr. Alfonso Zegbe, Ambassador of Mexico, recited a poem in Spanish by Nezahualcoyotl - poet, philosopher and ruler of the city-state of Texcoco in pre-Columbian era Mexico. His recitation was followed by a musical performance by the Afghan ensemble Maam-e Mihan.
After that, there were poetry recitations from Bangladesh, Tajikistan and China.
The event was attended by many representatives of diplomatic missions and international organizations, as well as artists and government representatives.
At the end of the programme, the guests visited a photo exhibition organized by the UN Information Centre (UNIC) depicting the history of the United Nations in Iran; as well as the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iran.
The exhibition will be open to the public until the end of the week at the ECO Cultural Institute in Tehran.