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Durbin Writes Letter in Support of Dr. Muhammad Yunus

WASHINGTON, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–March 15, 2011.  Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) wrote a letter to Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, voicing strong concern over the recent dismissal of Professor Muhammad Yunus as Managing Director of Grameen Bank. Yunus, winner of the Noble Peace Prize, founded Grameen Bank in 1983 as a microfinance and community development bank focused on making small loans to Bangladesh’s poor population. The circumstances surrounding Dr. Yunus’ dismissal are suspect and have been the subject of international consternation.

“With Professor Yunus at the helm, Grameen Bank has played a leading role in a global movement to lift millions of the world’s poorest people out of poverty using the innovative microcredit concept that he pioneered,” Durbin wrote. “Yet, we are troubled by what appears to have been a months-long effort on the part of the Bangladeshi government to discredit Professor Yunus and remove him as Managing Director while increasing government influence at Grameen Bank. Quite simply, it would be very disappointing to see Bangladesh’s thriving civil society, microfinance sector, and international reputation negatively affected by actions that stand to damage the integrity of Grameen Bank.

We strongly encourage you to work with Professor Yunus to find an amicable solution to this unfortunate situation – one that treats him with the dignity he deserves while preserving the effectiveness and operational integrity of Grameen Bank for the millions of Bangladeshis who depend on it, as well as for your nation’s reputation as the home of the microcredit movement.”

Durbin has long supported Dr. Yunus and his work at the Grameen Bank. Last year, Durbin sponsored a resolution to award Dr. Yunus the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the United States.

Durbin first met Dr. Yunus in Bangladesh and has worked with him for more than ten years to advance microcredit and economic development in the world’s poorest nations. One of Dr. Yunus’ greatest successes in recent years has been microcredit programs targeted toward poor women. Most of these programs have high repayment rates and have helped women around the world change their lives and the lives of their families. It is for these efforts that Dr. Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

“Dr. Yunus has given hope to millions through his Grameen Bank. For more than thirty years, his theory of microenterprise has become a phenomenon – touching the lives of more than 100 million people around the world. It is hard to think of any single idea in our lifetime which has lifted so many people out of the deepest depths of poverty,” Durbin said.

[A copy of today’s letter – also signed by Senators Brown (D-OH), Bennet (D-CO), Enzi (R-WY), Boozman (R-AK) and Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ) – is below.]

The Honorable Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister of Bangladesh

Old Sangsad Bhaban

Tejgaon, Dhaka-1215

Bangladesh

Dear Prime Minister Hasina:

We write to express strong concern over the Government of Bangladesh’s recent dismissal of Professor Muhammad Yunus as Managing Director of Grameen Bank.

With Professor Yunus at the helm, Grameen Bank has played a leading role in a global movement to lift millions of the world’s poorest people out of poverty using the innovative microcredit concept that he pioneered. The bank’s world renowned success in that effort has helped millions of Bangladeshis rise from poverty and has brought recognition to Professor Yunus, Grameen Bank, and Bangladesh.

Yet, we are troubled by what appears to have been a months-long effort on the part of the Bangladeshi government to discredit Professor Yunus and remove him as Managing Director while increasing government influence at Grameen Bank. These efforts raise concerns about the government’s motivations and the impact such efforts may have on the strong and important U.S.-Bangladesh relationship. Additionally, the potential for these actions to have a destabilizing effect on Grameen puts the effectiveness and long-term integrity of the bank and its critical programs at great risk.

Quite simply, it would be very disappointing to see Bangladesh’s thriving civil society, microfinance sector, and international reputation negatively affected by actions that stand to damage the integrity of Grameen Bank.

We strongly encourage you to work with Professor Yunus to find an amicable solution to this unfortunate situation – one that treats him with the dignity he deserves while preserving the effectiveness and operational integrity of Grameen Bank for the millions of Bangladeshis who depend on it, as well as for your nation’s reputation as the home of the microcredit movement.

We will continue to closely follow this matter and appreciate your attention to it.

Sincerely,

Senators Durbin (D-IL), Brown (D-OH),

Bennet (D-CO), Enzi (R-WY), Boozman (R-AK) and

Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ)

Source: durbin.senate.gov

 

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