Jail Term for Bangladeshi Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus

    GovernanceAccountabilityJail Term for Bangladeshi Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus
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    Jail Term for Bangladeshi Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus

    Embroiled in a protracted row with the government, Muhammad Yunus has got a jail term for violations of the country’s labour laws. He is out on conditional bail.

    A Bangladeshi labour court on Monday sentenced the country’s only Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus and three of his colleagues to six months in prison on Monday for violating the country’s labor laws. Yunus and his three colleagues from Grameen Telecom, one of the firms he founded, are accused of violating labour laws when they failed to create a workers’ welfare fund in the company.

    Sheikh Merina Sultana, head of Dhaka’s Third Labour Court, delivered the verdict. The court also fined Yunus 30,000 takas ($272).

    The court recorded evidence in the case filed by labor officials of the government in the space of four months. Yunus’s lawyers allege that the case’s proceedings were completed in a tearing haste.

    The 83-year-old Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist and civil society leader, who said he would appeal the decision told reporters, “I have been punished for a sin I did not commit. If you want to call it justice, you can.”

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    The court gave the founder of the Grameen Bank and his colleagues 30 days to appeal the verdict and sentence. It simultaneously granted them bail as well.

    Taking note of the government’s reletless actions against the Nobel laureate, 40 world leaders and Nobel laureates had written appealed to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina over her government’s treatment of Yunus. They said that he had been unfairly attacked and repeatedly harassed.

    Sucking poors’ blood?

    Muhammad Yunus was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for founding Grameen Bank and the pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance. He showed the worth of lending to entrepreneurs from the poorest sections of Bangaldeshi society who were cast aside by the conventional banking system.

    But Yunus also earned the ire of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who accused him of “sucking blood” from the poor. Prime Minster Hasina made several scathing verbal attacks against him, and political observers say that she feared he would become her political rival.

    He was removed from the post of managing director in 2011 in a row over his retirement age. This, his supporters say, was done at the behest of the government.

    Muhammad Yunus has been embroiled in a longstanding row with the government. He is battling at least 168 cases, including alleged tax evasion and misappropriation of profits. The latest decision acrues from his role as chairman of Grameen Telecom, a nonprofit company.

    Image: Wikimedia Commons

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