HAF Sends Congratulatory Letter to Hindu PM of Trinidad & Tobago for Election Victory

June 14, 2010
The Honorable Kamla Persad-Bissessar
Office the Prime Minister - Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Dear Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar,
Namaste.  It is my distinct honor to congratulate you on behalf of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) for your election to the seat of Prime Minister for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.  Your victory is indeed historic and one of great significance to hundreds of millions of Hindus worldwide, not only as a Hindu, but also as the first woman Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. We are confident that under your leadership, you will usher in an era of peace and progress.
We would like to bring to your attention the Foundation's work in surveying the human rights conditions of Hindus worldwide since its inception in 2003.  Each year, HAF publishes a comprehensive report covering up to eleven regions (countries and states) of concern in the Hindu Diaspora.  HAF's most recent report (2009) on human rights covered the condition of Hindus in eight countries and one state of India. And since 2006, the annual report has also covered issues faced by Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago, including governmental and institutionalized bias and temple vandalism.
Our analysis (http://www.hafsite.org/media/pr/hhr09execsummary#Trinidad) of Trinidad and Tobago has been based on reports from people living there, media reports, as well as studies by other human rights groups.  We found that in 2009, Indo-Trinidadians continued to be systematically denied government benefits and employment in public sector jobs and that Hindu institutions and festivals were subject to acts of violence or denied equal access to public funds. HAF has recommended that: 
  • The United States encourage the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to abide by the country’s Constitution and guarantee safety and security to Hindus and Indo-Trinidadians.
  • The Government of Trinidad and Tobago should practice parity and equality in government response to and support of various ethnic and religious groups and recognize Hindus and Indians as equal partners in the rule and governance of the nation.
  • The Government of Trinidad and Tobago must do more to protect Hindus from violence, hate speech as well as racial and religious stereotyping. Furthermore the government must safeguard Hindu temples from attacks.
  • The Government of Trinidad and Tobago must distance itself from Christian fundamentalists who promote hatred against Hindus and Hinduism and avoid Christianization of its institution
We respectfully urge your government to evaluate HAF's report and recommendations and address the concerns of Hindus who have been disenfranchised, discriminated against or have been subject to harassment and violence on the basis of their religious identity.  Members of our Board of Directors are looking forward to visiting Trinidad and Tobago in August 2010 to participate in the World Association of Vedic Studies (WAVES) conference, which many Hindu scholars and activists will be attending.  If your schedule permits, we request a meeting to discuss with you the condition of Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago and how HAF might play a positive role to help fellow Hindus of your country.
All the best,
Ms. Suhag Shukla, Esq.
Managing Director and Legal Counsel