Update on Prof. Yunus: Supreme Court Adjourns, More Time for Action!

March 29, 2011
by Jen Maurer, Sr. Policy Associate

As you may remember, two weeks ago the Bangladesh Supreme Court adjourned to review the case against Yunus. Today, the Supreme Court in Bangladesh again U.S. ambassador and the Department of State, including last week during an official visit by Robert Blake, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian Affairs. Blake bipartisan letter to the prime minister initiated by Senate Assistant Majority Leader Durbin and a House Bangladesh Caucus letter signed by 27 members of the bipartisan Bangladesh Caucus. Other members have issued press statements, including Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Rep. Jackson, Jr., House Women’s Caucus leader Rep. Schakowsky; and Republican member of the House Financial Services Committee Rep. McCotter.

International support for civil society is also increasing, including yesterday, when our own Sam Daley-Harris, director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, joined Italian microfinance leaders and members of Parliament in a latest press release, which includes links to congressional actions and statements, with your member of Congress so they can see that they will join powerful company if they issue a statement. Contact Jen Maurer for questions or help.

Laser talk for calling your member of Congress: The government of Bangladesh is attacking the independence of Grameen Bank and trying to force Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus to resign. It has gone to court, and Yunus has appealed to the Supreme Court, which will hear the case the April 4. The government has been attacking Yunus and Grameen for months. When allegations of corruption didn’t stick, they have resorted to trying to fire Yunus. These attacks hurt the people of Bangladesh and are not just against Grameen, but against independent civil society, which has been a critical partner in the poverty-alleviation progress Bangladesh has made. The U.S. government has been actively defending the bank and Yunus, and there are now hints that a compromise may be possible, but additional public support from Congress is crucial. Would the senator/representative join his/her colleagues and issue a statement this week supporting the independence of Grameen and condemning the government of Bangladesh’s actions? I can send you statements and letters sent by your colleagues.

Action #2: Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed TODAY

While we are working on other media, your letter to the editor may be the fastest way to raise awareness in your community, inform your editors of the situation, and tell your members of Congress to take action. If your newspaper would take an op-ed, contact Jen Maurer for questions or help in writing one. And still try to get an editorial!

Remember to keep your letter under 150 words. Send your letter to RESULTS and to your members of Congress. You can find your newspapers on our website.

Sample letter to the editor:

Title: Nobel Peace Prize Winner Under Attack

Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank are under attack from the Bangladesh government. Prof. Yunus is the father of microfinance. He started Grameen Bank to provide the poorest women with small loans to start businesses. They use the proceeds to care for their children and lift their families out of poverty. Without proof of corruption and without logical explanation, the government has spent the last four months attacking Yunus. They have now resorted to trying to fire him as managing director. If they succeed, they will effectively take over Grameen and set the rest of civil society on notice — if they can do this to a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who is next? I urge the U.S. to continue to support Grameen and issue a clear statement to the press. I also urge Rep./Sen. ______ to issue a public statement condemning the actions of the Bangladesh government.

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