Global Leaders and Nobel Laureates Call for Ending the Persecution of Muhammad Yunus
The following is the full and unedited text of a letter which internationally distinguished persons wrote to Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina on Aug. 28, 2023 in support of Dr. Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist and civil society leader who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grmeen Bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance:
“August 28, 2023
Dear Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,
We write to you as Nobel Prize laureates, elected officials, and business and civil society leaders, and as friends of Bangladesh. We admire how your nation has made laudable progress since its independence in 1971.
However, we are deeply concerned by the threats to democracy and human rights that we have observed in Bangladesh recently. We believe that it is of the utmost importance that the upcoming national election be free and fair, and that the administration of the election be acceptable to all major parties in the country. The previous two national elections lacked legitimacy.
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. This letter attempts to build upon an earlier appeal to you by 40 global leaders who were concerned about his safety and freedom.
We respectfully ask that you immediately suspend the current judicial proceedings against Professor Yunus, followed by a review of the charges by a panel of impartial judges drawn from within your nation with some role for internationally recognized legal experts. We are confident that any thorough review of the anti-corruption and labor law cases against him will result in his acquittal.
As you know, Professor Yunus’ work, which has been inspirational to all of us, focuses on how social business can be a force for international progress resulting in zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero net carbon emissions. He 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.
We hope that you ensure the resolution of these legal issues in an expedient, impartial, and just manner while also ensuring a free, fair, and participatory national election in the coming months, and respect for all human rights. We will join with millions of concerned citizens around the world in closely tracking how these matters are resolved in the days ahead.
Barack H. Obama, 2009
José Ramos-Horta, 1996
Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, 1976
Shirin Ebadi, 2003
Leymah Roberta Gbowee, 2011
Albert Arnold Gore Jr., 2007
Tawakkol Karman, 2011…”
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