10 quotes on T&T's 1990 attempted coup
On July 27, 1990 members of the Jamaat al Muslimeen attempted to overthrow the government of Trinidad and Tobago during a six-day siege.
Here are several quotes from those who experienced the event:
1. Former parliamentarian, member of the NAR, and former leader of the Congress of the People (COP), Winston Dookeran, said in the 2014 report of the Commission of the Enquiry that he was “of the view that the purpose of the insurrection was to protect the land at #1 Mucurapo Road.”
He said in categorical terms: “The attempted coup arose from the land issue. I read it that the Mucurapo land issue precipitated the coup...I think they came expressly to change the Government.”
“Bilaal (one of the insurgents) put a gun to my neck and threatened that, if I did not do as he said, he would blow off my head.”
2. Former parliamentarian Joseph Toney said in an Express interview that Bakr was a coward for not attending the 2014 Commission of Enquiry into the attempted coup:
“It’s the coward’s route to get away from coming to face the music and answer the question on why he did what he did…he’s so arrogant about it…I don’t think he’s ever apologised to Trinidad and Tobago….what would have happened to Trinidad and Tobago, to our way of life? These are questions we cannot answer,” he said.
3. Emmett Hennessy said in an interview with IETV on the July 27, 1990 attempted coup:
“In the blink of an eye…I was just there and within seconds I was running for my life, jumping over roof tops, doing athletic feats I could never repeat again, not knowing the hell why, why are these men trying to kill me?”
“You hear quotes…people should have been in Parliament that day and pointedly weren’t…these are things I would like to be asked at those people and see how well they can answer those questions.”
4. Former General Secretary Anjuman Sunnat ul Jammat Association (ASJA), Kamal Hosein, said in an interview that:
“It is against the run of Islam to be involved in things like this…we feel that change must come from the democratic processes.”
6. Yasin Abu Bakr, leader of the Jamaat al Muslimeen said in a 2014 interview with VICE that:
“They occupied my land, every Friday I couldn’t have any peaceful prayer, until finally it come to the crux and I arrested them and charged them for the murder (of constable Bernadette James) and that’s the (attempted) coup, that’s what the coup was about.”
7. Fyard Hosein, SC said in the 2014 report of the Commission of the Enquiry into the attempted coup:
“I watched Port of Spain burn from the Hilton. I watched the TV station being stormed. I saw looting from a helicopter during that period. One of the assignments I was given was to work with Col. Theodore and we went along the East/West corridor by helicopter over the Red House.
And while the hostages were there, we saw a level of indiscipline and misbehaviour that I thought could never happen in this country. Looting, burning, lack of respect for property and life and limb…..I had the opportunity to go into the Red House after the attempted coup and the Red House was in a terrible state.”
“I don’t think it is readily appreciated, some 22 years later, the utter state of destruction of Port of Spain and the wanton looting and burning, lack of respect for authority that flowed from 1990, and the utter decimation of major parts of the city including one of the first buildings – the Police Headquarters…..The country was at war with itself because there were people who had stormed the Parliament and other people who had betrayed the city.”
8. Denis McComie, former National Broadcasting Service (NBS) radio host said in a CNC3 interview that ‘chaos reigned’ on the first day of the attempted coup, when insurgents used a car as a bomb to blow up the Police Headquarters on St Vincent Street, Port of Spain:
“It was so intense that the vibration of it threw people to the ground. Chaos reigned from that moment until the 1st of August,” he said.
9. Laura Lee Madeira-Williams, daughter of TTT broadcast journalist Jones P. Madeira, said in a 2016 interview that she got several phone calls from her father during the siege.
“My father, in his unselfish nature, would call and let us know that everyone else is ok, putting himself for last as he normally does…there were times when he would call her (her mother) and cry and say ‘I can’t do this’, and she would say ‘Yes you can’.”
10. ANR Robinson (1926-2014), former Prime Minister and President of Trinidad and Tobago:
“Attack with full force.”
Here's a list of the names of insurgents who took part in the attempted coup: http://www.culture.gov.tt/list-of-insurgents/list-of-insurgents