Thousands in B’desh protest against Yunus’ sacking


DHAKA – Thousands of employees and customers of Grameen Bank protested in Bangladesh on Saturday over the sacking of Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus as head of the microfinance institution he pioneered. The 70-year-old economist was dismissed as managing director of Dhaka-based Grameen Bank by Bangladesh’s central bank last Wednesday in what his supporters said was the culmination of a vendetta against him. Grameen Bank workers and customers formed peaceful human chains across the country, police said, carrying banners calling on the government to stop its “harassment” of the 2006 Nobel Peace prize winner.
“We protested against the government’s attempt to oust Professor Yunus. We think his dismissal is politically motivated and part of a long campaign to humiliate him,” said Nurul Amin Khandaker, a Grameen Bank accountant. Supporters say Yunus’s troubles stem from 2007, when he floated the idea of forming a political party, earning the wrath of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has publicly disparaged his work. Khandaker, an organiser of the protest, estimated that around 20,000 of the bank’s work force and customers took part in Saturday’s protest.
Police had no precise total for the demonstrators but said the number was in the thousands as protests were held in scores of cities and towns.
In the port city of Chittagong, “protesters, mostly officials and clients of the bank, formed a peaceful human chain by linking hands,” Inspector Ruhul Amin told AFP. The protests came as Bangladesh’s main opposition party called the dismissal of Yunus part of a “conspiracy to destroy the Grameen bank” and US Senator John Kerry, who heads the powerful US Senate foreign relations committee, added his voice to international concern over Yunus’s treatment.
Kerry said he hoped the government and the Nobel winner could reach a “compromise” on the issue. “I am deeply concerned by efforts to remove Muhammad Yunus as managing director of the Grameen Bank,” Kerry said in a statement.