Muhammad Yunus Sentenced to Jail Term in Bangladesh

Muhammad Yunus

Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus was sentenced to six months’ jail term in Bangladesh for violating labor laws.

Professor Yunus, who is known for coming up with the idea of Microfinance, has recently been vocal with his criticism against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. His supporters accuse the government of targeting him politically.

The famous economist together with three others from the Grameen Telecom Company were found guilty of failing to create a welfare fund for their workers. The four accused have denied all charges brought against them and have been granted bail as they await determination on their appeal.

“As my lawyers have convincingly argued in court, this verdict against me is contrary to all legal precedent and logic,” Prof Yunus said in a statement released after the verdict.

“I call for the Bangladeshi people to speak in one voice against injustice and in favour of democracy and human rights for each and every one of our citizens.”

The 83-year-old Yunus, known internationally as the “banker to the poor”, is credited with establishing a pioneering system of micro-finance loans helping to lift millions out of poverty.

Prof Yunus founded the Grameen Bank with the aim of providing financial access to the poor. By establishing Grameen Bank in 1983, Muhammad Yunus sought to realise his vision of self-support for the very poorest people by means of loans on easy terms. The bank has since been a source of inspiration for similar microcredit institutions in over one hundred countries.

One of the supporters who spoke to BBC said, “The whole idea is to damage his (Yunus) international reputation. We are appealing against this verdict.”

Prime Minister Ms Hasina once said that Prof Yunis is a “bloodsucker” of the poor and accused the Grameen Bank of charging exorbitant interest rates. Yunus is now facing over 100 cases in court related to labour law violations.

The former leader of Amnesty International Irene Khan has termed Yunus’ conviction as “a travesty of justice.” International leaders including former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have called on Ms. Hasina to stop her political persecution of Muhammad Yunus.

It is believed that Yunus had or still has an intention to form a political party that will challenge Hasina’s governing party Awami League.

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