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Reuters Interviews Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh

Photo: Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner, addresses the crowd at the Houston World Affair’s Council on January 14th 2008.

No competitive politics left in Bangladesh, says Dr. Yunus

New York, N.Y. Ruma Paul of Reuters interviewed Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus [Luce Index rank: 99] this week in Dr. Yunus’ office in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Reuters quotes Yunus, a thought leader and global citizen, as saying that Bangladesh has turned into a “one-party state” as the ruling party stamps out political competition.

Nobel Peace laureate Muhammad Yunus is a pioneer of the global microcredit movement whom I interviewed at a Clinton Global Initiative conference (link).

An election in January won Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a fourth straight term, but it was boycotted by the main opposition party, whose top leaders were either jailed or in exile ahead of the poll.

The author with one of his heroes, Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank.
Credit: Rahim B. Kanani (www.rahimkanani.com).

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the opposition party, promotes religious freedom and tolerance as a component of Bangladeshi nationalism. Many founding leaders of the party were non-Muslims. The party has soundly rejected theocracy as the governing system for Bangladesh.

Yunus, who helped lift millions from poverty by providing tiny loans of sums less than $100 to the rural poor, angered Hasina with a 2007 plan to set up a political party to be called “Citizens’ Power.”

The 2006 Nobel laureate accused Hasina’s ruling Awami League party of being involved in rampant corruption, saying Bangladesh lacked a genuine political opposition.

Bangladesh doesn’t have any politics left,” Yunus, 83, said last week in his office in Dhaka, the capital. “There’s only one party which is active and occupies everything, does everything, gets to the elections in their way.” He added, “They get their people elected in many different forms—proper candidates, dummy candidates, independent candidates—but all from the same party.”

Yunus, an economist who won the Nobel for his work on microcredit, was forced out of Grameen Bank in 2011 by Hasina’s government, which said he had stayed on past the legal retirement age of 60.

Muhammad Yunus was educated at Dhaka University and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study economics at Vanderbilt University. In 1972 he became head of the economics department at Chittagong University.

Hasina, 76, is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of the South Asian nation killed in an army coup in 1975, along with most of his family. She first became prime minister in 1996.

As Bangladesh’s longest-serving prime minister, Hasina has been credited with turning around the economy, though critics have also accused her of human rights violations and suppression of dissent.

Letter received from Dr. Muhammad Yunis.

The U.S. State Department said January’s elections were not free and fair while the British government’s foreign office also condemned acts of “intimidation and violence.”

At the time, the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) denounced the exercise as a “sham” election, calling for its cancellation, Hasina’s resignation, and the formation of a non-party neutral government to hold a fresh one.

Just before the election, a court in Bangladesh had sentenced Yunus to six months in prison for violations of labor law, which he denied.

Although he is not in prison after securing bail in that case, Yunus faces more than 100 cases regarding the violations and graft accusations, which he dismissed as “very flimsy, made-up stories.

It seems as if there truly are no competitive politics left in Bangladesh, as Yunus believes. And that the government wishes to silence Yunus for this thought. However, Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus is a thought leader and global citizen who we can believe in.

#NobelLaureate #Microcredit #Dhaka #AwamiLeague #BNP #PoliticalOppression #EconomicReform #HumanRights #ElectionIntegrity #Corruption #Hasina #YunusInterview

Jim Luce
Jim Lucehttps://stewardshipreport.org/
Raising, Supporting & Educating Young Global Leaders through Orphans International Worldwide (www.orphansinternational.org), the J. Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org), and The Stewardship Report (www.stewardshipreport.org). Jim is also founder and president of the New York Global Leaders Lions Club.

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