A total of 50 editors of national dailies in Bangladesh issued a joint statement on Saturday, protesting global leaders' call to suspend legal action against Nobel laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus.
The statement of the open letter written by some Nobel laureates, politicians, businessmen, and members of civil society from different countries to Bangladesh's prime minister is deemed as a direct interference in the country's independent judiciary system, they said.
More than 170 global leaders, including over 100 Nobel laureates, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on 28 August, saying, "We are alarmed that he [Dr Yunus] has recently been targeted by what we believe to be continuous judicial harassment."
The statement of the 50 editors said, "According to Article 94(4) of the Constitution of Bangladesh, the Judiciary of Bangladesh is completely independent. We feel that they have unethically, illegally, and unconstitutionally interfered with the independent judicial system of Bangladesh by issuing such letters.
"Such an open letter is completely against the provisions of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the laws of Bangladesh regarding the rights of workers. Such statements and letters from internationally respected Nobel laureates are unexpected and unethical."
The statement said the claim that one cannot be sued and prosecuted for committing a crime is contrary to the establishment of justice and the rule of law.
"We think they made such a claim without fully knowing about the case. So, they or their representatives can come and observe whether Dr Yunus is being harassed at all. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made the call and we support it," reads the statement.
The editors termed the global leaders' statement on democracy and elections in Bangladesh a direct interference in an independent sovereign state.
They called upon all concerned to respect Bangladesh's independence, sovereignty, its independent judiciary, and labour rights.
The signatories of the statement include Iqbal Sobahan Chowdhury, editor, Daily Observer; Golam Rahman, editor, Ajker Patrika; Tasmima Hossain, editor, Daily Ittefaq; Abul Kalam Azad, chief editor, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha; Imdadul Haque Milan, editor-in-chief, Kaler Kantho; Alamgir Hossain, editor, Samakal; Saiful Alam, editor, Jugantor; Naeem Nizam, editor, Bangladesh Protidin; Farid Hossain, editor, UNB; Shyamal Dutta, editor, Bhorer Kagoj; Naeemul Islam Khan, emeritus editor; Altamas Kabir, editor, Sangbad; Azizul Islam Bhuiyan, editor, People's Time; Rezaul Karim Lotus, editor, Daily Sun; Shahjahan Sardar, editor, Bangladesh Journal; Nasima Khan Monty, editor, Amader Natun Samoy; Rafiqul Islam Ratan, acting editor, Bangladesh Bulletin; Farooq Ahmed Talukder, editor, Ajkaler Khabar; Santosh Sharma, editor, Kalbela; Sharif Shahabuddin, editor, Bangladesh Post; Shamima A Khan, editor, Janakantha; Kamlesh Roy, acting editor, Somoyer Alo; Mustafiz Shafi, editor, Protidiner Bangladesh; Mostafa Mamun, acting editor, Desh Rupantor; Belayet Hossain, editor, Bhorer Dak; Chowdhury Zafarullah Sharafat, acting editor, Dainik Bangla; Shamim Siddiqui, acting editor, Alokito Bangladesh; Abdul Majeed, editor, Sangbad Sarabella; Rimon Mahfuz, acting editor, Sangbad Pratidin; Mofizur Rahman Khan Babu, editor, Bangladesher Alo; Arifur Rahman Dolan, editor, Dhaka Times; Noor Hakim, editor, Sokaler Somoy; Md Jasim, editor, Amar Barta; Akhlakul Ambia, editor, Swadhin Bangla; SM Noore Alam Siddiqui, editor, Ajker Darpan; Farid Bangali, editor, Lakho Kantha; Dr Asaduzzaman, editor, Bangladesh Samachar; Kishore Adityo, editor, Prothom Kotha; Deepak Acharya, editor, The South Asian Times; Abu Saeed, editor, Ajker Sangbad; Atiqur Rahman Chowdhury, editor, Darpan Pratidin; Rafiqul Islam, editor, Alor Barta; Md Salim, editor, Daily Evening News; Mostafa Hossain Chowdhury, editor, Agrosor; Nazmul Haque Sarkar, acting editor, Bortoman; Shahadat Hossain Shaheen, editor, Ganamukti; Md Saidul Islam, editor, Protidiner Sangbad; Nazmul Alam Taufiq, editor, Daily Citizen Times; Hemayet Hossain, editor, Country Today; and Sheikh Jamal, editor, Mukhopatro.