Daily Star, Dhaka, March 13, 2011
Prof Yunus a political victim: Lord Avebury
Lord Avebury, vice-chair of the UK Parliamentary Human Rights Group, has said the removal of Grameen Bank founder Prof Muhammad Yunus by the government from his post raises serious concerns about the creeping politicisation of development work and civil society in Bangladesh.
In a joint statement in London issued on March 11 supported by some British MPs and academics, Lord Avebury and some British MPs and academics said the microcredit approach to poverty reduction pioneered by Prof Yunus was an important innovation in the fight against poverty.
He said there are 8 million women borrowers in Bangladesh and the basic idea of microcredit has been copied by many other public and private agencies across the world.
“At the same time, advocates of microcredit have sometimes made exaggerated claims about its efficacy, and in some countries the sector itself has been poorly regulated.”
However, Lord Avebury said: “The government’s decision to take action against Yunus now appears to be motivated more by a desire to gain short term political capital by cashing in on a current global microfinance media backlash, than by evidence of any wrongdoing.”
He said: “No substantive reasons have been given for the sacking, nor has there been an opportunity for Prof Yunus to answer any criticisms of his performance as managing director.”
“It looks as though the government is punishing him for attempting to form a new political party in 2007 that could have challenged the existing two-party system, rather than for proof of any wrongdoing.”
The statement is supported and consented by Lord Avebury, Peter Bottomley MP, Charles Tannock MEP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Prof Geoff Wood and Dr Joe Devine of Bath University, Prof David Lewis of London School of Economics, Ms Maggie Bowden, General Secretary, Liberation (human rights organisation), and Sadat Sayeed, Barrister at Garden Court Chambers, Lincoln’s Inn.