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Bangladeshi expats protest US senators’ letter on Yunus issue

Published : 29 Jan 2024 10:39 PM | Updated : 30 Jan 2024 11:50 AM

Leaders of Bangladeshi expatriates’ community in the United States expressed disappointment for sending a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by a group of US senators criticizing government’s steps against Prof Dr Muhammad Yunus.

In a statement received on Monday, the expatriates under the banner of Congress of Bangladeshi American wrote a letter to Cory Booker, a senator of New Jersey on Thursday. 

“We are expressing our disappointment with the letter to you as you signed along with eleven other Senators in a letter sent to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on January 22, 2024,” reads the letter.

The letter concerns the case of Dr Yunus, a Bangladeshi citizen facing charges brought against him by employees of his business firm who claim that he violated their employment rights under the country's labor laws.

The letter shows a need for more respect for the office of the Prime Minister of an independent nation, as it addresses her starting with no greetings but a baseless accusation that goes against the minimum etiquette of addressing a head of sovereign government.

The letter also displays a need for more understanding of the ongoing judicial case in a foreign land, as it appears to be influenced by rage rather than logic. We are concerned that our nation's lawmakers are attempting to intervene in a civil court matter and are not respecting the court of law but soliciting external influence to crush the court verdict.

“We urge you and the other Senators to research the subject matter's merit and respect of the office of the Prime Minister.

 We also encourage you not to take the side of Dr. Muhammad Yunus, a powerful corporate chief and instead support the poor and helpless ordinary employees or laborers deprived of their legal and financial rights,” according to the release.

It is important to note that Dr. Muhammad Yunus has been charged with violating labor laws, not providing a 5percent dividend to Grameen Telecom workers, not regularizing 101 staff, and not compensating workers for public holidays.

 The government of Bangladesh has invited international experts and lawyers to assess the legal proceedings and examine documents involving the charges against Yunus.

There are not hundreds of individual cases that he has to face; rather, the fact is that there are hundreds of affected employees who brought the same charges, and one verdict of guilty or not guilty will satisfy all cases, which is similar to a class action lawsuit.

 Some other charges involve alleged corruption and embezzlement of fund with Grameen Telecom, the release added.

Unfortunately, in your latter, we witness the reflection of what the U.S. mainstream media, CBS News, predicted in their online news when they stated, "As Yunus is known to have close connections with political elites in the West, especially in the United States, many think the verdict could negatively impact Bangladesh's relationship with the U.S.

We also want to emphasize that Dr. Yunus's identity as an internationally acclaimed Nobel laureate should not excuse him from violating labor law, nor should his relationship with influential Western leaders and his appointed lobbying companies influence the merit of this court verdict.

We hope our leaders and lawmakers will refrain from using their private relationships to hinder our amicable relationship between two friendly nations.

 Our national interest should be the determining factor in forging solid and good relations with our geo-strategic partners in South Asia and worldwide.

Bangladesh has played a vital and strategic role in bringing peace, prosperity, and a strong partnership in the war against terrorism to that region and in curbing transnational militants as a reliable U.S. partner for over fifty years.

“You and the other Senators verify the facts of the allegations brought against Dr. Yunus by his employees, not the government of Bangladesh.

 If necessary, we urge you to send international experts and lawyers to Bangladesh to assess the legal proceedings and examine documents involving the charges against Yunus, said the forum leaders.

 We also encourage you to withdraw your names from this letter, which we consider defamatory and based on unsubstantiated facts, they concluded.