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Tk78 lakh ad on Yunus in Washington Post

Newspaper ad on Dr Yunus denounced

Published : 12 Mar 2023 03:02 AM | Updated : 12 Mar 2023 03:02 AM

The American daily Washington post has published the open letter of 40 eminent people of the world in favour of Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr Muhammad Yunus in the form of “advertisement”, not news.

Eminent citizens in Bangladesh questioned the intentions of spending money for such a letter as local television channel Somoy TV reported that it cost over Tk78 lakh to publish the advertisement on the seventh page of the paper.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, 40 eminent personalities of the world expressed their "deep concerns for the well-being" of Muhammad Yunus.

This letter was published in the form of an “advertisement” in the American daily Washington Post last Tuesday (March 7).

However, few media outlets in Bangladesh including The Daily Star and Prothom Alo published that in the form of “news”.

The letter read that it is "painful to see Prof Yunus, a man of impeccable integrity, and his life's work unfairly attacked and repeatedly harassed and investigated by your government".

It is not clear, however, what type of wrongdoing or attack DrYunus was subjected to. There is no specific information about that in the advertisement.

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen on Thursday questioned the intentions of some people who were talking against Bangladesh and its leader prime minister Sheikh Hasina, noting that to them “grapes are sour”.

“It does not matter much. It’s unrealistic and not objective,” he told reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when asked.

He said Bangladesh was a role model of development and the world acknowledged this. The prime minister was a “very determined and courageous lady and those people were on a mission to minus her so that an instability could be created in the country.”

Satellite TV, Somoy news reported that the advertisement cost over Tk78 lakh.

Page seven of the Washington Post is used for advertising. On March 7, the open letter was printed on that page in 18.5 inches, five columns. The size of that advertisement was 90 and a half column inches. Out of the total six columns on that page, one column was news. And at the bottom was another two-and-a-half-inch ad.

According to information available online, Washington Post's current advertising rate is $807 per column inch. According to that, the cost of this advertisement of Yunus is 73 thousand 33 dollars. The price of the dollar is 107 in taka, which means the value of the ad is 78 lakh 14 thousand 584 taka.

Former vice-chancellor of Dhaka University Prof AMS Arefin Siddique said that the government has not treated him in any way that warrants such a statement.

“But people know about Dr Yunus and they are well aware about the harmful activities he was involved in Bangladesh.”

Senior journalist Naimul Islam Khan explained how such a letter can be issued. “Civil society in Bangladesh is divided in line with different party politics. We know in any issue when they issue a statement, they call their like-minded people and say I am giving your name. Those people who give consent even do not read the statement clearly. Dr Yunus is an international player. In his case, a similar thing happened. That means after writing the letter they (40 people) were told that your name is given.”

He said the list of those who signed the letter shows that not all of them are influential. But there are some who have influence. So, the idea that 40 numbers or 40 people are very important is completely wrong.”

Another thing is that, he said, this is not Washington Post journalism. They didn't report it. Neither did their research or they printed it. If you look, you will see that this is a paid content.

“The statement is also based on under-information (lack of information). If we look at the ad very simply from the beginning, there are no details on where Dr Yunus's humanitarian activities around the world or the activities he is running in the country were affected or who stopped them. Is Dr. Yunus banned from traveling abroad? He is going to hundreds of places outside the country, has he been blocked? Has he not been allowed to go to the airport? We don't know anything like that. Where are the obstacles in his activities? This is the first allegation, which has no basis.”

"In the open letter, they did not specifically say that this work has been obstructed, that work has been obstructed."