Free Yunus

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6 Monate Gefängnis.
So heißt das Urteil, das vor wenigen Tagen ein Gericht in Bangladesch gegen Muhammad Yunus verkündete. Der heute 83jährige soll in dem von ihm gegründeten Unternehmen Grameen Telecom unterlassen haben, einen Sozialfonds für die Beschäftigten einzurichten. Und weitere 199 Verfahren sind derzeit gegen ihn anhängig.
Der Grund dafür ist nicht etwa Prof. Yunus kriminelle Energie. Die gibt es nicht. Es handelt sich um einen Feldzug, den Hasina Wajed, die Ministerpräsidentin des Landes Bangladesch, seit mehr als einem Jahrzehnt gegen den prominentesten Bürger des Landes führt. Im Jahr 2007 erwog Yunus die Gründung einer eigenen Partei. Das machte ihn für Wajed zu einem potenziell gefährlichen politischen Rivalen – den sie um jeden Preis ausschalten will.
Ich habe Muhammad Yunus Mitte der 1990er Jahre kennengelernt, damals ein bei uns noch weitgehend unbekannter Ökonomieprofessor aus Bangladesch. 2001 erklärte er sich bereit, in meiner Stiftung Entrepreneurship Mitglied des Kuratoriums zu werden. Eine bessere Besetzung hätte ich mir nicht wünschen können.


Prof. Yunus hatte das Thema Mikro-Entrepreneurship aufgebracht. Gerade die Armen, so seine These, seien Unternehmer, weil ihnen gar keine anderen Möglichkeiten offen stünden. Und sparsam und effizient im Umgang mit Geld seien sie auch, weil sie so wenig davon hätten. Allerdings seien sie Unternehmerinnen unter extrem schlechten Voraussetzungen. Schon mit kleinsten finanziellen Beträgen – Mikrokrediten – seien sie in der Lage, ein eigenes Unternehmen zu gründen. Was in westlichen Ohren nach einer verrückten neuen Theorie klang, hatte es in sich. Muhammad Yunus hatte es ausprobiert – und es funktionierte. Erst im ganz kleinen Maßstab und dann in immer größerem. 2006 erhielt er für seine Theorie und Praxis den Friedensnobelpreis.
„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.“ Das sagt der ehemalige UN-Generalsekretär Ban Ki-moon zum unfassbaren Vorgehen der Regierung Bangladeschs. Und im August 2023 schrieben 108 Nobelpreisträger an Ministerpräsidentin Wajed (siehe Link): “Professor Yunus is a leading example of how Bangladesh and Bangladeshis have contributed to global progress in recent decades. We sincerely wish that he be able to continue his path-breaking work free of persecution or harassment.” Das spricht mir aus der Seele. Den Rachefeldzug Wajeds haben auch sie aber nicht stoppen können.


Das Leben und das Lebenswerk dieses herausragenden Menschen müssen verteidigt werden. Von der Welt, von Ihnen, von mir.

Bangladesh: Stop weaponizing labour law to harass Nobel Laureate Mohammad Yunus

Authorities in Bangladesh must stop weaponizing labour laws and immediately end their harassment and intimidation of the Nobel Peace Laureate Mohammad Yunus, Amnesty International said today.

Mohammad Yunus, who is also the chairman of the board at Grameen Telecom, is accused of employment-related violations and faces a criminal case in Bangladesh under the Labour Act 2006. Three other board members, Ashraful Hasan, Nur Jahan Begum and Mohammad Shahjahan, face the same charges.

The ongoing trial is just one of more than 150 cases filed against Mohammad Yunus after the ruling Awami League party came into power in 2008. Amnesty International believes that initiating criminal proceedings against Mohammad 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.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2023/09/bangladesh-stop-weaponizing-labour-law-to-harass-nobel-laureate-mohammad-yunus/

Protect Yunus

Twelve U.S. Senators Call for the Ending the Harassment of Professor Yunus

Following on an August letter signed by 190 global leaders, including 108 Nobel laureates, demanding that the Bangladesh Prime Minister end her campaign violating the human and legal rights of Professor Yunus, 12 prominent U.S. Senators from both major U.S. parties wrote their own critical letter to the PM today, which was sent with an accompanying press release.

They wrote, “We write urging you to end to the persistent harassment of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus—and the pattern of abusing laws and the justice system to target critics of the government more broadly.” And they added that Professor Yunus’ positive “efforts should not be undermined over ongoing political vendettas, especially in a democratic nation of laws.”

They concluded by saying, “Ending the harassment of Professor Yunus, and others exercising their freedom of speech to criticize the government, will help continue this important relationship [between the United States and Bangladesh].”

Interestingly, the Senators did not congratulate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on her recent uncontested and disputed “re-election,” implying that they did not recognize it as legitimate.

This comes one day after the highly respected Professor Rehman Sobhan — who was once appointed as the chairman of Grameen Bank by the Prime Minister when she was in power in the 1990s — wrote a highly critical article in the Daily Star and the Dhaka Tribune warning Bangladesh’s citizens that they have much to fear from their own government if such a flawed legal case against Professor Yunus could proceed as far as it has. He lamented, “Over the years the weaponization of the judicial system has become part of a wider assault on our institutions of democracy and governance…. The case of Professor Yunus is symptomatic of this erosion in the credibility of our institutions. The triviality and narrowness of the case against Yunus would not have made it to first base in any well functioning judicial system.” 

The entire text of the U.S. Senate letter appears below:

January 22, 2024

Dear Prime Minister Hasina,

We write urging you to end the persistent harassment of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus—and the pattern of abusing laws and the justice system to target critics of the government more broadly.

For more than a decade, Professor Yunus has faced more than 150 unsubstantiated cases brought against him in Bangladesh. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have noted irregularities in proceedings against him, including the most recent six month prison sentencing for allegedly violating the country’s labor laws that is being appealed. These reputable organizations argue the speed and repeated use of criminal proceedings are indicative of politically motivated judicial abuses. Moreover, the repeated and sustained harassment of Yunus mirrors what many Bangladeshi civil society members also face in an increasingly restrictive environment.

Yunus’ pioneering work on microfinance offered greater economic promise for many Bangladeshis and millions of impoverished people around the world. The United States Congress awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal in 2013, recognizing his pioneering contributions to the fight against global poverty. Such efforts should not be undermined over ongoing political vendettas, especially in a democratic nation of laws.

 

https://protectyunus.wordpress.com

The United States values its longstanding relationship with Bangladesh, which includes close bilateral and multilateral coordination on numerous common interests. Ending the harassment of Professor Yunus, and others exercising their freedom of speech to criticize the government, will help continue this important relationship.

Thank you for your prompt consideration of this matter.

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