Bangladesh MOFA wages propaganda war against Yunus

Dipumoni YunusBy- Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury | Date- August 27, 2012

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While one of the most talkative ministers of the current government, who suddenly got tamed since her grand flop in signing the Water Sharing Treaty with India, foreign minister Dr. Dipu Moni despites series of her failures, which already is bringing unimaginable political and economic catastrophe for Bangladesh, her ministry has engaged into nasty diplomacy centering the issue of Grammen Bank founder and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus. Although the issue of this internationally acclaimed personality centering his removal from the post of managing director of Grameen Bank is already under international radar, Dr. Dipu has instructed her fellow officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for waging propaganda war against Yunus, ignoring the fact of his huge influence in the international arena. Working on the tip of the foreign minister, the officials at the ministry has already incorporated several materials right on the website of the foreign ministry titled Facts Relating to Professor Yunus & Grameen Bank. As preface of the documents put on display at the website of the foreign ministry, it writes, “The Grameen Bank and Professor Muhammad Yunus have featured in the international and national media quite extensively over the past one year. The reports mostly portrayed a conflict between the Bangladesh Government and the Managing Director of Grameen Bank at the time, namely, Professor Muhammad Yunus. The Government feels it necessary to clear the air, especially in view of the misperception that these reports may have generated.

1] Initially, the publicity relating to Grameen Bank and Professor Yunus arose following the release of a documentary Film produced by a Danish journalist in the Norwegian media. The film highlighted the nature of Grameen Bank’s activities, its modus operandi, the many complaints by its borrowers and falsehood of the myth that Grameen Bank’s borrowers had succeeded in breaking the poverty barrier. No less significant was the unauthorised diversion and misuse of Norwegian donor funds intended for Grameen’s borrowers in the rural areas, Professor Yunus’s expressed desire to evade tax through such unauthorised diversion, and a series of other breaches of the law.

2] When the Government’s attention was drawn to the wide publicity given to the documentary film, the Government of Bangladesh instituted, on 7 January, 2011, a high powered multi-disciplinary Review Committee to examine and investigate the activities of Grameen Bank.

3] Further, when the Government’s attention was also drawn to the fact the Professor Muhammad Yunus’s continuance in the office of Managing Director of Grameen Bank after 28 June, 2000, that is upon reaching the superannuation age of 60 years, was contrary to the governing law, namely the Grameen Bank Ordinance, 1983, the Service Rules made thereunder, the Constitution of Bangladesh and several statutes which defined the position of the Managing Director of Grameen Bank, a statutory public authority, as that of public servant or public employee, Bangladesh Bank (the Central Bank) informed Grameen Bank, and its Chairman, that Professor Muhammad Yunus had passed the age of superannuation and had ceased to function as Managing Director of Grameen Bank by operation of law.

4] Professor Yunus challenged the letter issued by Bangladesh Bank to the Chairman, Grameen Bank by moving a Writ Petition in the High Court Division of the Supreme Court and thereafter in multiple appeals before the apex Court. The Appellate Division upheld the decision of the High Court Division which rejected his Writ Petition, and Professor Yunus was deemed to have retired from the office of Managing Director of Grameen Bank on 28 June, 2000 upon reaching 60 years of age.

5] The high powered multi-disciplinary Review Committee submitted its report on 24 April, 2011.”

The above five point clarification from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been also followed by some links to few more statements and documents, which certainly are put together with the mission of dampening the ever-increasing global image of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Professor Muhammad Yunus became a villain in the eyes of the top policymakers of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League led leftist-Islamist coalition government, when he harshly criticized limitless corruption of the politicians as well took an initiative of floating a political party named Nagorik Shakti (Citizen’s Power), although his political ambition got flopped at the zero hour as he failed to get expected support either from the mass people or from the members of the civil society as well as politicians. Simple reason behind such shameful consequence of his political ambition is, because though he attained grand success to build an international image being the founding father of Grameen Bank, the people at large in the country never anticipated him stepping into politics, nor they had any intention of extending any support to the initiatives of Nagorik Shakti in emerging as a political party, which surely would be an alternative to the existing mainstream political forces in Bangladesh. On the other hand, the timing of floating this party was wrong for Professor Yunus, as by that time, Bangladeshis at large were already fed up with the massive misrule, state level corruption and extortion as well as gross violation of human rights by the army backed interim government, which was headed by Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, who had earlier served as the governor of Bangladesh Bank. At that point, people were seeing the flopped banker Fakhruddin in Professor Yunus, which stopped them from extending any support to his political ambition.

Professor Mohammad Yunus turned highly ambitious of becoming the leader of Bangladesh seeing over-whelming excitement and celebration of the people of the country when he got the Nobel Peace Prize. At that time, right from the moment of declaration of his name as the recipient of this most prestigious prize, millions of Taka was spent by Grameen Phone as well as other enterprises of Grameen Bank in a massive public relations and propaganda hawk in favor of Yunus, which was later understood to have been initiated at the personal desire of the Nobel Prize laureate, as he already was seeing himself as the prospective leader of the country. What Professor Yunus missed is, he did not remember, how the people of Bangladesh exploded into joys and celebration when country’s cricket team got qualified to play international test matches. Seeing such huge excitement of the people, should any of the cricket players or even the captain of the team committed the same blunder of becoming a national leader, his or their consequences would be same as what has happened to Professor Yunus. In my personal opinion, Professor Yunus could not absorb the shock [in positive sense] of getting the Nobel Peace Prize and from that moment, unfortunately he lost balance totally and had been behaving sometime as a mere kid while mostly as a senseless individual. Instead of expressing gratitude to the people of Bangladesh for their support and encouragements, Dr. Yunus rather tried to educate the people as well as the leaders, while he also made frantic bids of using local and international media in setting him almost at the same status of the great leaders of this country. No doubt such blunders were initiated, nurtured and finally put onto Yunus’ head by none but his own younger brother Muhammad Jahangir, who had visibly been the second-in-command or next man to Mohammad Yunus into all affairs centering the then Grameen Bank boss. No doubt, Yunus got a good lesson from the people that his aspiration of riding into apex level of country’s political power or floating a political party were not endorsed by the Bangladeshis at large.

For a person of his height, no doubt this very signal from the people was more than enough for Professor Yunus to swallow his political aspiration for good. But, leaders of Bangladesh Awami League could not anyway tolerate Mohammad Yunus anymore, as they started seeing a real ghost in him for no valid reason, and at the tips of some duffers, the pundits of Bangladesh Awami League started searching ways of down sizing Yunus both nationally and internationally. From that moment, an elected government turned into an open enemy of Professor Mohammad Yunus and initiated all out conspiracies in removing him from the post of Grameen Bank initially and finally pushing him inside prison with various charges. The first part of the agenda of the rulers had already been implemented and now the power elites are spending sleepless nights in seeing Yunus facing trials, ignoring the fact that such rudeness would surely put the entire nation into a huge crisis both political and economic.

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