Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Government opts for respectable exit for Yunus, while global support pours

SALEEM SAMAD

AT THE time when Bangladesh government softened their reactive mood and have described that the ball is in Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus court, more global moral support pours in for the pioneer of banking the poor.

Two weeks ago a number of United States Senators and Congressman have expressed their concern over the humiliation faced by the international icon of microfinance.

A week ago Robert Blake, the visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs cautioned that if the Yunus issue remains unresolved, it will impact bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the United States.

The moral supports coincided with Bangladesh Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned until April 4 the hearing on the petition filed by Muhammad Yunus seeking a stay order on the High Court judgment upholding his dismissal as the Grameen Bank managing director.

The central bank on March 2 removed the Nobel laureate from his position for allegedly flouting rules when he was reappointed in 1999. Yunus filed the petition against the order which the High Court had rejected earlier.

The unceremonious exit of Yunus has invited bricks and bouquets at home and globally. The government is embarrassed by blitzkrieg reaction from the press, politicians, celebrities and development practitioners.

Meantime a number of international microfinance organizations and civil society in Italy, Peru, Philippines and Pakistan have issued statements expressing support in solidarity with Prof. Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank.

Mario Baccini MP, President of the Italian Committee for Microcredit, Prof. Luisa Brunori of Bologna University, Sam Daley-Harris and European Member of Parliament Sylvia Cost said Prof Yunus with Grameen Bank have made significant mileage in social development in Bangladesh through microfinance. They are leading actors in the fight against poverty, writes private news agency United News of Bangladesh.

A statement of the Global Center for Development and Democracy (CGDD) and on behalf of President Alejando Toledo of Peru said “our organization, which cares about international development, has been following very closely the developments, and is very much concerned
about the progress which could be lost if the country’s leaders fail to appreciate what makes the Grameen Bank work.”

The statement further said that “If he (Toledo) becomes our next president, we expect to extend microloans to the poorest in our country in order to lift all Peruvians who are living below poverty conditions, out of it.”

Another letter to Prof Yunus from CARD MRI Family of Philippine said “our more than 1.5 million members and clients would like to assure you of our unwavering support to you as the Managing Director of Grameen Bank.”

An open letter from Kashf Foundation of Pakistan said Yunus and Grameen Bank are today global icons and torch-bearers for the mission to eradicate poverty, as well as to provide sustainable choices to poor households across the world.

It said the work of Grameen Bank has been replicated across 100 countries and has benefited over 170 million poor women globally. [ENDS]

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and politics. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com