“We are alarmed that he has recently been targeted by what we believe to be continuous judicial harassment,” signatories of the letter said.
Over 170 global leaders, including more than 100 Nobel laureates, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina demanding immediate halt to the ongoing judicial proceedings against Professor Muhammad Yunus today.
“We are alarmed that he has recently been targeted by what we believe to be continuous judicial harassment. This letter attempts to build upon an earlier appeal to you by 40 global leaders who were concerned about his safety and freedom,” reads the letter published on Monday (28 August) on the blog site ‘protectyunus.wordpress.com’.
The 174 signatories also raised concern about the Bangladeshi Nobel laureate’s safety and freedom.
According to the blog post, the latest letter is a follow up to an earlier letter sent in March and has been written in solidarity with a statement issued by 34 Bangladeshi eminent citizens. The letter is scheduled to be published as a full-page ad in the international edition of the New York Times on 31 August as Yunus’ trial resumes.
“We write to you as Nobel Prize laureates, elected officials, and business and civil society leaders, and as friends of Bangladesh. We admire how your nation has made laudable progress since its independence in 1971,” the letter states at the beginning.
It then goes on to raise concerns regarding the next election, saying, “However, we are deeply concerned by the threats to democracy and human rights that we have observed in Bangladesh recently. We believe that it is of the utmost importance that the upcoming national election be free and fair, and that the administration of the election be acceptable to all major parties in the country.
“The previous two national elections lacked legitimacy.”
The global leaders said, “One of the threats to human rights that concerns us in the present context is the case of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus.
“We are alarmed that he has recently been targeted by what we believe to be continuous judicial harassment. This letter attempts to build upon an earlier appeal to you by 40 global leaders who were concerned about his safety and freedom.”
In the letter, the global leaders called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to immediately suspend the current judicial proceedings against Yunus, followed by a review of the charges by a panel of impartial judges drawn from within the state with some role for internationally recognised legal experts.
“We are confident that any thorough review of the anti-corruption and labour law cases against him will result in his acquittal,” they said.
Besides, lauding Professor Yunus, the signatories wrote, “As you know, Professor Yunus’ work, which has been inspirational to all of us, focuses on how social business can be a force for international progress resulting in zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero net carbon emissions.
“He is a leading example of how Bangladesh and Bangladeshis have contributed to global progress in recent decades. We sincerely wish that he be able to continue his path-breaking work free of persecution or harassment.
“We hope that you ensure the resolution of these legal issues in an expedient, impartial, and just manner while also ensuring a free, fair, and participatory national election in the coming months, and respect for all human rights.”
The letter concludes with the signatories saying, “We will join with millions of concerned citizens around the world in closely tracking how these matters are resolved in the days ahead.”
Signatories of the open letter include Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, Jose Ramos-Horta, the president of East Timor, and Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland, Nobel Laureates Albert Arnold Gore Jr (peace), Orhan Pamuk (literature), Harvey J Alter (medicine), etc.