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Dhaka, August 30 (PTI) Concerned about the many court cases against Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, more than 170 world leaders, including former US president Barack Obama, have asked Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to halt all legal efforts against the pioneer of finance.
For his work fighting poverty, Yunus, 83, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Through the Grameen Bank he established in 1983, Yunus helped Bangladesh gain a reputation as the birthplace of microcredit.
Prime Minister Hasina was urged to halt the legal action against Yunus in an open letter signed by more than 170 world leaders and Nobel laureates.
Obama, Ban Ki-moon, a former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and more than 100 Nobel laureates were among the signatories.
The story of Prof. Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is one of the challenges to human rights that worries us in the current situation. We find it alarming that he has recently been the focus of what we believe to be ongoing judicial harassment,” the letter added.
“We are confident that any careful review of the anti-corruption and labour law cases against him will result in his acquittal,” the statement said.
Global Outcry as Muhammad Yunus Faces Legal Battles in Bangladesh
In a statement expressing her support for Yunus, Clinton urged the world community to launch a campaign to “end his persecution” as the economist is being tried in a number of legal proceedings for possibly violating banking and labour rules.
On Tuesday, Clinton posted a message on the social networking sites Facebook and X with the message, “Stand with me and more than 160 other global leaders to support great humanitarian and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus in his moment of need.”
Wife of former US president Bill Clinton wrote “Join the movement to demand an end to his persecution.”
On Monday, Hasina responded quickly and proposed that foreign dignitaries send specialists to look at the accusations against Yunus.
The prime minister added that she believed the expert’s review will turn up additional accusations against him and stressed that Bangladesh’s judiciary was independent.
“If the gentleman (Dr. Yunus) had so much self-confidence that he had committed no crime, he would not be begging for a statement at that international level,” she said, accusing Yunus of “begging” for the statement.
Due to unknown causes, the economist had a lengthy argument with the current administration. After assuming office in 2008, the Hasina-led administration launched a number of inquiries on him.
Many people think Hasina lost it when Yunus declared he would launch a political party in 2007, when the nation was ruled by a military-backed government and she was imprisoned. At the time.
However, Yunus abandoned the plan and instead criticised the nation’s politicians, claiming they were only out for themselves.
In 2011, Hasina’s administration started an investigation into the Grameen Bank’s operations and dismissed Yunus as its first managing director on the grounds that he had broken retirement rules.
He was on trial in 2013 for allegedly receiving funds, including his Nobel Prize and book royalties, without authorization from the government.
Hasina referred to Yunus as a “bloodsucker” and charged that as the CEO of Grameen Bank, he had used violence and other tactics to recoup debts from impoverished rural women.
After appearing in court, he was later given bail.
Yunus blamed the government for preparing the path for the “destruction” of the innovative micro-lending bank he formed after his failed attempts to resolve conflicts with the government.
18 former Grameen Telecom employees filed a lawsuit against Yunus earlier this month, accusing him of stealing their employment perks. Counsel for Yunus described the situation as harassment and pledged to refute the claims.
Separately, Yunus was put on trial in August 2022 for allegedly breaking work rules.
The Anti-Corruption Commission filed a lawsuit against the economist and 13 other people, accusing them of stealing money from Grameen Telecom.
In September 2019, a Dhaka court issued a warrant for Muhammad Yunus arrest after he failed to show up in person for a hearing over the termination of three workers of the IT business he serves as chairman of.