Bangladesh Nobel winner fears for future as woes mount

DHAKA  -  Bangladesh Nobel peace laureate Muham­mad Yunus says it is a “million-dollar ques­tion” why the prime minister hates him, but says many believe she sees him as a politi­cal threat. Yunus, 83, is credited with lifting millions out of poverty with his pioneering microfinance bank but has earned the en­mity of long-time Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Last month, several of his firms were “forcefully” taken over, weeks after his conviction in a criminal case his sup­porters say was politically motivated. “She calls me bloodsucker, calls me all the dirty things she can come up with,” he said. “Why (does) she hate me? Some say it’s political... (that) she sees me as a political opponent,” he added, carefully avoiding directly ac­cusing Hasina himself. In January, Yunus and three colleagues from Grameen Tele­com, one of the firms he founded, were sentenced to jail for six months after they were found guilty of violating labour laws. All four deny the charges, and have been bailed pending appeal. Yunus, who is facing more than 100 other charges over labour law violations and alleged graft, said the forcible takeover of his companies was related to a lack of democracy. “Those cases are made on flimsy grounds,” he told AFP in an interview in the capital Dhaka last week. “Since I don’t see any legal ba­sis for that, probably it is politically motivated.” Around 160 global figures, including former US president Barack Obama and ex-UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, published a joint letter last year denouncing the “continuous judicial harassment” of Yunus.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt