Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Nobel Peace laureate Muhammad Yunus, renowned for his groundbreaking microfinance initiatives, has been convicted on Monday for allegedly violating Bangladesh’s labor laws. The case, criticized by supporters as politically motivated, centers on Yunus and three colleagues from Grameen Telecom, accused of failing to establish a workers’ welfare fund in the company.

Despite Yunus’s global acclaim for uplifting millions from poverty, his relationship with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been strained, with accusations of exploiting the poor. The 83-year-old and his associates were sentenced to “six months’ simple imprisonment” by a Dhaka labor court, but they were promptly granted bail pending appeals.

Yunus, who has consistently denied all charges, expressed his frustration, stating, “I have been punished for a crime that I haven’t committed.” The case is one of over 100 others involving labor law violations and alleged graft that Yunus is currently facing.

The international community, including figures like Barack Obama and Ban Ki-moon, has condemned what they describe as “continuous judicial harassment” against Yunus. Irene Khan, a former Amnesty chief and UN special rapporteur, called the conviction “a travesty of justice,” emphasizing concerns about the persecution of a Nobel laureate on dubious grounds.

Critics argue that Bangladeshi courts are aligning with Hasina’s government decisions, known for its crackdown on dissent. Amnesty International accuses the government of “weaponizing labor laws” and urges an immediate end to Yunus’s alleged harassment, asserting that the criminal proceedings are a form of political retaliation.

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