New Delhi, Jan. 2: Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and chairman of Grameen Telecom, Bangladesh has been sentenced to six months imprisonment over alleged labour law violations on Monday. His supporters claimed he had been targeted because of his bitter relations with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“The allegation of violating the Labour Law against him has been proved. It appears that the allegation has not been barred by limitation (either),” the judge said, pronouncing the judgment. The judge also slapped Rs 25,000 fine, adding that they would have to serve 10 more days in jail in case of a default.
“As my lawyers have convincingly argued in court, this verdict against me is contrary to all legal precedent and logic. I call for the Bangladeshi people to speak in one voice against injustice and in favour of democracy and human rights for each and every one of our citizens,” said Prof Yunus in a statement after the verdict.
Soon after the judgment was passed, Yunus and the three other executives sought bail, which the judge granted immediately for a month in exchange for a Taka 5,000 bond. Notably, the verdict comes just days ahead of the January 7 general election in Bangladesh.
In August, more than 150 international figures, including former US president Barack Obama and ex-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wrote a joint letter, denouncing continuous judicial harassment of Muhammad Yunus. The signatories included more than 100 of his fellow Nobel laureates. They also wrote about his safety and freedom. Some critics in Bangladesh have accused Bangladesh courts as playing in the hands of Hasina’s government.
Earlier, Amnesty International had accused the Bangladesh government of weaponising labour laws when Muhammad Yunus went to trial in September and called for an immediate end to his “harassment”. Criminal proceedings against Yunus were “a form of political retaliation for his work and dissent”, Amnesty International said.
A senior officer from Bangladesh on condition of anonymity told Radiance that the action against Muhammad Yunus is politically motivated. It has been done to tarnish his global image and acceptance for criticizing the policy of the government. Yunus is a statesman, a gentleman and his financial model is gaining acceptance worldwide. He is paying the price for speaking against the policies of the government.