(Senate - June 27, 2013)

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[Page S5486]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                       TREATMENT OF GRAMEEN BANK

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I rise today to once again voice publicly 
my concern with actions the Government of Bangladesh has taken and is 
poised to take with respect to Grameen Bank and the Grameen family of 
  Grameen Bank has for decades been the pride of Bangladesh and the 
envy of the world. The brainchild of Professor Muhammad Yunus, the Bank 
pioneered a concept of lending that helped the very poor help 
themselves. Uniquely, the Bank was owned and governed by those very 
borrowers, giving them both an opportunity to succeed individually and 
a stake in the success of others.
  For this, both the Bank and Professor Yunus have been recognized 
across the globe with awards and honors. Both were jointly awarded the 
Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. The United States has recognized Professor 
Yunus with its two highest civilian honors--the Presidential Medal of 
Freedom and, most recently just this April, with the Congressional Gold 
  Sadly, since 2010, instead of showcasing Grameen's efforts to lift 
countless Bangladeshis out of poverty, the Government of Bangladesh has 
instead engaged in what seems to amount to nothing more than carrying 
out a political vendetta against Grameen and Professor Yunus. This has 
resulted in Professor Yunus' forced removal from his position as 
Managing Director and changes to the governance of the Bank. I and many 
of my colleagues in the House and Senate, as well as the Obama 
administration, have repeatedly raised concerns at all levels of the 
Bangladesh Government over these moves.
  We now understand that in the face of our continued objections and 
those from a wide swath of the international community, the Government 
of Bangladesh plans to hold a meeting on July 2 at which it is reported 
that they will finalize plans to take control of Grameen Bank.
  Such a troubling move could jeopardize the stability of the Bank and 
put millions of borrowers, mostly women, who depend on it at risk of 
sliding back into poverty. It would likely gut the self-government that 
has been such a critical part of the great success of the Grameen 
  The Government of Bangladesh should think twice before taking such 
  Today, the U.S. Government took action against Bangladesh over 
another issue that has caused great concern--safety of the garment 
industry in Bangladesh. In response to several high profile garment 
factory accidents, the administration announced today that it will 
suspend Bangladesh's trade privileges with the United States.
  I am certain this is not the image of Bangladesh that Prime Minister 
Hasina wants the world to see. In the last few years, Bangladesh has 
made great strides to rude poverty and to develop a vibrant civil 
society. The country has been contributed significantly to important 
international peacekeeping missions around the world.
  It is a shame that the government's campaign against Grameen and its 
slow response to critical labor safety issues overshadow such 
  I urge the Government of Bangladesh to end this campaign against 
Grameen Bank and the Grameen family companies. The United States and, 
truly, the world are watching.