The world’s best-known microfinance institutions and over a dozen Bangladeshi scholars living abroad condemned the government move to remove Prof Muhammad Yunus from Grameen Bank.
In a statement, Tilman Ehrbeck, chief executive of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), and Vijay Mahajan, chair of the CGAP board, said, “We are deeply concerned by the campaign of the past few months and recent legal actions to remove Muhammad Yunus as managing director of Grameen Bank.”
They said over the past 30 years Yunus and Grameen Bank together have been a powerful force and symbol for the microcredit movement, and for progress for poor people who were previously excluded from formal financial services.
“Prof Yunus has been a pioneer in the field, and his substantial contributions to advancing the cause of poor unbanked women should be celebrated by Bangladesh, and the international community.”
“The current situation is damaging not just to Grameen Bank and poor clients in Bangladesh, but also to the wider microfinance industry,” they said.
They said the widespread international support Yunus has received affirms the important role many countries now see for financial inclusion. “We also sense an increasing awareness and understanding at a political level in many countries including the G20 of what financial inclusion can contribute to social and economic development.”
“We hope that a compromise can be reached that allows Grameen Bank to operate effectively, and for microfinance in Bangladesh to continue to thrive and contribute to the social and economic development of the country.”
CGAP is the world’s leading resource for advancement of microfinance. It provides the financial industry, governments and investors with objective information, expert opinion, and innovative solutions to effectively expand access to finance for poor people around the world.
In a joint open letter in support of Dr Yunus, ACCION, Calvert Foundation, Co-Operative Bank, FINCA, Freedom From Hunger, Grameen Foundation, Grassroots Capital, Microvest Fund, Opportunity International, Pro Mujer, Triple Jump, Visionfund International, and Women’s World Banking, said the banker to the poor has diligently served the poor for decades, and none has done more to inspire generations to work to reduce poverty.
“We are increasingly concerned and dismayed with the troubles Muhammad Yunus is facing in Bangladesh. As we understand it, the government of Bangladesh is resorting to technicalities to remove Dr Yunus from the Grameen Bank, without presentation through legitimate and transparent legal processes of any evidence of wrongdoing.”
“We deeply deplore this lack of justice and unproven allegations that not only impugn Dr Yunus’ character and the integrity of his flagship bank, but reach much further. Forced removal creates unnecessary risk for the more than 8 million borrowers-owners of the bank.”
“The government of Bangladesh previously had respect for the bank’s independence as a majority client-owned microfinance institution; it is our sincere hope that a return to the status quo can be made quickly.”
Meanwhile, 16 non-resident Bangladeshis living abroad wrote an open letter to the Government of Bangladesh under the banner of “Voice for Justice”, protesting the dismissal of Yunus from the country’s most prestigious institution.
Voice for Justice is a global community organisation whose mission is to prevent acts of injustice, and to actively seek and ensure justice against any action of an individual, group or entity deemed illegal, unfair or discriminatory.
“We, the undersigned members of the international community of Bangladeshis, are deeply shocked by the recent dismissal of Nobel Laureate Dr Yunus from the Grameen Bank, an institution he founded and shepherded for the betterment of poor Bangladeshi women.”
“The action by the Bangladesh Bank is an example of government overreach. Even if Dr Yunus recently passed the retirement age, Grameen Bank’s Board of Directors should have had the option to work out a graceful transition for him,” they said.
“Dr Yunus is a distinguished citizen of Bangladesh and a model citizen of the world. His work is recognised by numerous national and international organizations. His micro-credit model is emulated in five continents. It has lifted millions of women and their families out of poverty and empowered them to become dynamic entrepreneurs,” they said.
The group said every Bangladeshi is proud of Dr Yunus’ Nobel Peace Prize and the renown he has brought to the motherland. “It is time we learn to respect a son of the land who has earned high honours and recognition around the world.”
“The sudden and disrespectful dismissal of Dr Yunus is unfortunate and unacceptable. It has caused deep concern worldwide and has tarnished the image of Bangladesh as a progressive and democratic country.”
“We deplore this action by the Government of Bangladesh and demand immediate reinstatement of Dr Yunus,” the members of Voice for Justice said.
The signatories are — Dr Hasanat M Husain MBE (UK), Shah Jahan (New Jersey), Dr Hasan Z Rahim (San Jose, California), Dr Sajedur Rahman (Sydney), Dr Taj Hashmi (Honolulu), Dr Shamsul Islam Choudhury (Chicago), Enam Choudhury (Stockholm), Dr Abdur Rahman (Ireland), Dr Hasan Mahmood (Toronto), Dr Jasmine Tickle (Cambridge), Mustafa Choudhury (Ottawa), Dr Matin Ahmed (California), Ezajur Rahman (Kuwait), Abdur Rahman Chowdhury, and Dr Mosleh-Uddin Ahmed (New Jersey).
Courtesy of The Daily Star