Letter to PM Hasina: 12 US senators urge to end harassment of Dr Yunus 

Dr Muhammad YunusFile photo

Some 12 members of the United States Senate have written to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, urging her to end the ‘persistent harassment’ of Nobel laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus and ‘abuse of laws and justice system to target critics.’ 

The senators are – Majority Whip and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dick Durbin, Todd Young, Tim Kaine, Dan Sullivan, Jeffrey A Merkley, Edward J Markey, Jeanne Shaheen, Peter Welch, Sherrod Brown, Sheldon Whitehouse, Ron Wyden, and Cory A Booker. 

“We write urging you to end to the persistent harassment of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus and the pattern of abusing laws and the justice system to target critics of the government more broadly,” they said in the letter issued to the Bangladesh prime minister.

Dick Durbin also shared the letter on his X handle on Monday. 

The senators noted Professor Yunus has faced more than 150 unsubstantiated cases brought against him in Bangladesh throughout the last one decade. The United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Volker Türk, and human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have noted irregularities in proceedings against him, including the most recent six month prison sentencing for allegedly violating the country's labor laws that is being appealed. 

They mentioned that the reputable organisations argue the speed and repeated use of criminal proceedings are indicative of politically motivated judicial abuses. Moreover, the repeated and sustained harassment of Yunus mirrors what many Bangladeshi civil society members also face in an increasingly restrictive environment.

The letter also read that Dr Muhammad Yunus' pioneering work on microfinance offered greater economic promise for many Bangladeshis and millions of impoverished people around the world. The United States Congress awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal in 2013, recognising his pioneering contributions to the fight against global poverty. Such efforts should not be undermined over ongoing political vendettas, especially in a democratic nation of laws.

“The United States values its longstanding relationship with Bangladesh, which includes close bilateral and multilateral coordination on numerous common interests. Ending the harassment of Professor Yunus, and others exercising their freedom of speech to criticize the government, will help continue this important relationship,” they added.