Leaders of the Protect Yunus Campaign and Civic Courage Express Deep Concern Over the Prison Sentence for Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus

WASHINGTON, Jan. 2, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Leaders of the Protect Yunus Campaign expressed profound dismay about the politically-motivated verdict against microfinance pioneer and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus as a violation of the rule of law, due process, and human rights. 

On January 1, 2024, Professor Yunus and three colleagues were convicted of labor law violations and sentenced to six months in jail, and then given one month bail to allow for appeals, following allegations of breaches of the Bangladesh Labor Act 2006 by Grameen Telecom relating to the classification of employees, annual leave entitlement, and employee profit-sharing schemes.

Professor Yunus’ conviction is the culmination of years of persecution by the Bangladeshi government and establishment. This case—one of 199 that have been filed against him in one of the most egregious examples of judicial harassment in the country’s history—should, at worst, have led to a US$227 fine against Grameen Telecom, where Professor Yunus serves as non-executive chairman, an unsalaried position. Instead, it was pursued in criminal court, a process itself in contravention of the Bangladesh Labor Act.

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement from the Campaign, “A leader like Muhammad Yunus should be celebrated and free to contribute to improving the lives of people and the planet. The last place he should be is in prison. I call for an immediate reversal of this unjust verdict.” 

Irene Khan, the former chief of Amnesty International who is now working as a United Nations special rapporteur for freedom of expression and opinion, and who was present at Monday’s verdict, said the conviction was “a travesty of justice.” She added, “A social activist and Nobel laureate who brought honour and pride to the country is being persecuted on frivolous grounds,” she said.

In August 2023, 189 global leaders, including 108 Nobel Laureates, wrote to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, stating, “One of the threats to human rights that concerns us in the present context is the case of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus. We are alarmed that he has recently been targeted by what we believe to be continuous judicial harassment.”

The leaders were responding to the Campaign’s statement following a high-level review by an international law firm: “Professor Yunus is facing six months in prison for a crime that he not only did not commit, but that legally does not exist… Not only are the allegations entirely without merit, but the legal process is wrong in law… A miscarriage of justice is happening in Bangladesh and the state must not be allowed to carry it to its conclusion.” That miscarriage of justice has now occurred and must be reversed.

Muhammad Yunus’s case is emblematic of the beleaguered state of human rights in Bangladesh,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard in September 2023. “The abuse of laws and misuse of the justice system to settle vendettas is inconsistent and incompatible with international human rights treaties.” 

Amnesty International added this after the verdict was announced, “Amnesty International believes that initiating criminal proceedings against Muhammad Yunus and his colleagues for issues that belong to the civil and administrative arena is a blatant abuse of labour laws and the justice system, and a form of political retaliation for his work and dissent.”

Sam Daley-Harris, the founder of Civic Courage, urged concerned citizens to join this effort by responding to a call to action.

For more information: https://protectyunus.wordpress.com/

Contact: Sam Daley-Harris
[email protected]


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SOURCE Civic Courage

Leaders of the Protect Yunus Campaign and Civic Courage Express Deep Concern Over the Prison Sentence for Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus WeeklyReviewer

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