Hindu American Foundation Executive Director Suhag Shukla, Esq. released the statement below regarding the announcement of Mohamed Irfaan Ali being sworn in as the new President of Guyana:
“We are delighted to hear that 5 months after the Guyanese people first went to the polls we now have a peaceful transition of power that reflects the will of the people of Guyana. We congratulate President Ali and his efforts to bring about about a peaceful transition, and we applaud the Hindu community in Guyana, a small but vibrant religious minority that is playing a more active role in contributing to their country’s future.”
Following that country’s disputed March election and a recount, allegations of voter fraud and other election irregularities become widespread prompting international criticism including from the U.S.
In June, a group of Senators released a statement calling on former President Granger to concede and step down. The Senator’s calls were in line with HAF’s May 13 letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo which called for increased pressure on government authorities and a targeted approach as opposed to broad sanctions which would have negatively affected the Guyanese people. After months of stalling by Guyanese authorities, on July 15 Secretary Pompeo announced targeted visa restrictions on certain members of the Guyana government who were alleged to be involved in undermining democracy in the South American country.
“Congratulations to Mohamed Irfaan Ali on being sworn in as president of #Guyana yesterday. I look forward to working with President Ali as the Guyanese people seek to build a more prosperous and democratic future,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-ID) tweeted on August 3, 2020.
For over 15 years, HAF has been closely monitoring the human rights situation in Guyana and has published an annual human rights report comprehensively detailing human rights violations against Hindus in Guyana — where Hindus constitute 25% of the country’s population. In 2019 HAF conducted an on-the-ground fact-finding mission to Guyana, where HAF officials met with diverse stakeholders and community activists.