On Friday July 27, 1990, the Jamaat al Muslimeen attempted to overthrow the government of Trinidad and Tobago. A six-day siege ensured, with the Jamaat leadership holed up in the Red House (where they held the Prime Minister and most of Parliament hostage) and in the headquarters of TTT (then the only television station in the country) and Radio Trinidad (one of two radio networks, located next to TTT).
This year the anniversary falls on a Friday. In the seventeen years that have passed, there has been no inquiry into the events. The guilty parties are free and have never been called upon to account for their actions. The two major political parties, the PNM and the UNC appear to wish that the events would just go away, but there are still open wounds in society. Carson Charles, leader of the NAR, which was the governing party during the coup attempt, has called for a probe into the events, but the government is uninterested.
“There must be some kind of investigation, some kind of impartial investigation and report of what took place. Something dispassionate, something removed from the politics with the emphasis on what lessons should be learned from what took place,” Charles said.
The government is uninterested in any inquiry into the events
Questioned yesterday on the matter, senior Cabinet member Energy Minister Dr Lenny Saith indicated there was no change to the Cabinet’s previous decision of holding no enquiry.
Some politicians though, agree that this is important
Congress of the People Chief Whip Ganga Singh, the existing Caroni East MP, who was not a member of Parliament in 1990 agreed with Charles.
Singh said that instead of a Commission of Enquiry, the country needs the local equivalent of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the Government of South Africa.
“I think as a society, I think we should really confront this issue and not go into self denial as if it never really happened,” Singh said.
Seventeen years have passed, and nothing has been resolved. The memorial will be “low key” – neither the President nor the Prime Minister is attending. But these things don’t just “go away”. The memory of what happened is still burned into my memory.
At the very least the victims should be remembered.
From the Trinidad Guardian
From the Trinidad Express
From the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday