Global Leaders Express Concerns Over Bangladesh’s Treatment of Nobel Laureate: Over 160 prominent figures, including Barack Obama and Ban Ki-moon, jointly released a letter on Monday, highlighting “threats to democracy and human rights” in Bangladesh as the nation approaches upcoming elections.
The letter strongly criticized the ongoing “judicial harassment” faced by Nobel laureate and micro-credit pioneer Muhammad Yunus. The signatories expressed their worries about his safety and freedom. Yunus, known for uplifting millions from poverty, has faced a falling-out with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has publicly criticized him. He was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to economic development.
While national elections are scheduled for the end of January in Bangladesh, international rights organizations and foreign governments have consistently raised concerns about Hasina’s government stifling dissent and silencing critics.
“We are deeply concerned by the threats to democracy and human rights that we have observed,” the letter stated, building upon an earlier appeal made by 40 leaders in March. It emphasized the necessity for a free and fair national election.
The letter, endorsed by over 100 Nobel laureates, as well as notable figures like Hillary Clinton, Bono, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta, followed a series of civil suits filed against Yunus. He currently faces numerous civil and criminal lawsuits related to labor disputes, with many linked to non-profit social enterprises he leads.
Yunus has been subjected to over 200 lawsuits, according to his lawyer Abdullah Al Mamun, with Bangladesh’s state-run Anti-Corruption Commission also filing a criminal case against him in May, alleging misappropriation of employee funds.
The letter described Yunus as a prominent example of Bangladesh’s contributions to global progress and called for the suspension of charges against him pending an impartial judicial review. The signatories wished for Yunus to continue his groundbreaking work without persecution or harassment.