nobel laureate muhammad yunus convicted in bangladesh labor law case
Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, who is widely known for his microfinance initiatives, has been convicted in a labor law case in Bangladesh.
He was fined 10,000 taka ($118) by a Dhaka court on Monday, January 2, 2024, for violating the country’s labor laws at Grameen Communications, a company he founded.
The case was filed by 11 former employees of Grameen Communications, who claimed that they were fired for trying to form a trade union. They accused Yunus of depriving them of their due benefits and rights, and demanded reinstatement and compensation.
Yunus, who did not appear in court, pleaded not guilty and said he would appeal the verdict. His lawyer said the case was politically motivated and aimed at tarnishing his reputation and achievements. He also said the workers were not entitled to form a union as they were not permanent employees, but contractual ones.
Yunus, 83, is a renowned economist and social entrepreneur, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work with Grameen Bank, a microfinance institution that provides small loans to poor people, especially women, without collateral. He is widely regarded as the “father of microcredit” and a pioneer of social business.
However, he has faced a series of legal troubles and harassment from the Bangladeshi government, which has been hostile to him since he tried to enter politics in 2007.
He was forced to resign from Grameen Bank in 2011, after the central bank said he had exceeded the retirement age. He has also been accused of tax evasion, money laundering, and violating foreign exchange regulations, among other charges.
Many of his supporters and admirers, both at home and abroad, have condemned the government’s actions and called for an end to the persecution of Yunus. In August 2023, more than 170 global figures, including former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, and U2 lead singer Bono, signed an open letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, urging her to stop the “continuous judicial harassment” of Yunus.
Hasina, however, dismissed the letter as a “foreign conspiracy” and accused Yunus of “begging” for international support. She also defended the legal cases against him as legitimate and independent. She has been critical of Yunus and his microfinance model, calling him a “bloodsucker of the poor” and accusing him of charging high interest rates and misusing donor funds.