US closely monitoring verdict against Dr Yunus: State Department

Spokesperson Matthew Miller speaks in the US state department briefingCollected

The United States is actively monitoring the case involving Nobel laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus, who was recently convicted. Spokesperson Matthew Miller made this statement in response to a question during the regular briefing of the US State Department on Wednesday.

On Monday (1 January), the Third Labour Court of Dhaka sentenced four individuals, including Dr Yunus, the chairman of Grameen Telecom, to six months imprisonment.

Additionally, each of them was fined Tk 30,000. During the briefing at the US Department, a journalist inquired about the recent sentencing of Dr Yunus.

He asked, “Could you share your response to the recent New Year’s Day verdict against Nobel laureate and Presidential Medal of Honor recipient Professor Muhammad Yunus, reportedly influenced by the Bangladesh labor court under the control of ruling Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina? How does the State Department perceive the challenges to the rule of law and judicial independence in Bangladesh, particularly in the context of comparable case such as the 10-year sentence of the country’s first woman prime minister and main opposition leader, Khaleda Zia, and the plight of numerous opposition leaders, workers, media, and rights activists facing similar situations, even in some cases worse?”

Miller replied, “Muhammad Yunus has made significant contributions to the alleviation of poverty around the world, as reflected in his Nobel Peace Prize and numerous other international honors. We have been following the case against him closely. We’ve seen, of course, the widespread international criticism of the verdict. For our part, we have encouraged the Bangladeshi Government to ensure a fair and transparent legal process, and we will continue to follow any further developments closely.”

In another question the media person asked, “The next election will take place in the coming weekend. Given Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina public instruction for using dummy candidates in the upcoming election and the disregard for constructive suggestions from the international community for a free, fair election, will the US Government legitimize such a dummy election? If not, what punitive measures is the Biden administration considering against the proposed regime? as reported by the BBC over the weekend title, “Bangladesh: The election that has turned into a one-woman show.”

In response, Miller said, “I feel like I’ve answered this question before, but it’s a new year so I will answer it again. We support a free and fair election in Bangladesh. We have made that quite clear a number of times. We will watch the elections very closely, but of course I would never speculate in advance about what actions we may or may not take in response to any development.”