Durbin Denounces Fraudulent Charges Against Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin calls out the Bangladeshi government for levying fraudulent charges against Professor Yunus

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today delivered a speech on the Senate floor calling on the Bangladesh government to end its harassment toward Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, as he faces his upcoming court dates, where he could be sentenced to between six months to life in prison on several dubious charges.  As Durbin noted in his remarks, Professor Yunus, for more than a decade, has faced more than 100 unsubstantiated cases brought against him in Bangladesh. 

Durbin began his speech by speaking about the impact of Professor Yunus’ work as founder of Grameen Bank, which made strides in the fight against global poverty.

“The late Senator Mike Enzi, Republican from the State of Wyoming, joined me in [presenting] the Congressional Gold Medal to an amazing man, a pioneer in alleviating global poverty.  The recipient was Bangladeshi Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank,” Durbin began.

Durbin explained Grameen Bank’s mission, developing microloan programs to allow low-income families in developing countries to make a living.

“It [Grameen Bank] provided easy access to small loans to more than seven million borrowers—95 percent of them women or groups of women.  It changed poverty reduction in the process.  Such efforts eventually earned Professor Yunus the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006,” Durbin said.

In opposition to his groundbreaking humanitarian work, the Bangladeshi government has levied more than 100 unsubstantiated criminal and civil charges against Professor Yunus.  With yet another trial expected to begin soon, Professor Yunus faces the possibility of life in prison on baseless allegations.

Durbin decried this move by the Bangladeshi government, joining more than 170 global leaders in denouncing the charges.

“Last year, because of the frustration of his friends around the world over the way he’s being treated by the government in Bangladesh, 170 global leaders, including more than 100 Nobel laureates, wrote to Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urging an end to these judicial proceedings and harassment,”Durbin said.  “I have made similar calls and do so again here on the floor today.”

“Quite simply, what is happening to Professor Muhammad Yunus is a travesty that will seriously harm our relationship with Bangladesh.  It must stop immediately.  Enough,” Durbin concluded.

Last week, Durbin led three colleagues in releasing a statement denouncing the harassment against Professor Yunus, calling on the Bangladeshi government to end the mistreatment of Professor Yunus, and pull down the dubious charges he is facing.  The statement followed a letter sent by Durbin and his colleagues calling on Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to end the harassment against Professor Yunus.

The harassment campaign against Professor Yunus has been denounced by more than 100 Nobel Prize winners, including former President Obama.  Durbin led the effort in the United States Congress to award Professor Yunus the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010, recognizing his pioneering contributions in the fight against global poverty.  The Medal was later presented to Yunus in 2013. 

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here for TV Stations.