Jamaat al Muslimeen coup attempt

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Social unrest in Trinidad and Tobago

Social unrest in Trinidad and Tobago

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Jamaat al Muslimeen coup attempt

On Friday 27 July 1990, 114 members of the Jamaat al Muslimeen, a Muslim organisation, led by Yasin Abu Bakr, attempted to stage a coup d'état against the government of Trinidad and Tobago. Forty-two insurgents stormed the Red House (the seat of Parliament) and took Prime Minister A.N.R. Robinson and most of his cabinet hostage, while seventy-two of their accomplices attacked the offices of Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT), the only television station in the country at that time, and the Trinidad Broadcasting Company, then one of only two radio stations in the country. At 6.00 pm Yasin Abu Bakr appeared on television and announced that the government had been overthrown and that he was negotiating with the army. He called for calm and said that there should be no looting.

The army and the police responded by sealing off the area around the Red House. Widespread looting and arson took place in Port of Spain and other parts of the East-West Corridor, but the remainder of the country was calm. A State of Emergency was declared by acting president Emmanuel Carter and martial law was imposed. Several cabinet members who had not been present in the Red House at the time of the attack set up office in the Trinidad Hilton. On the night of 27 July the army took control of the TTT transmitter on Cumberland Hill, thus taking TTT off the air. After six days of negotiation, the muslimeen surrendered on 1 August and were taken into custody. They were tried for treason, but the Court of Appeal upheld the amnesty offered to secure their surrender, and they were released. The Privy Council later invalidated the amnesty, but the muslimeen members were not re-arrested.

About twenty-four[1] people died during the coup attempt, with millions in property losses. Among the dead was member of parliament for Diego Martin Central, Leo Des Vignes. Many people saw the coup attempt as the end of the power of the National Alliance for Reconstruction government.

In late July or early August 2010, the court ruled that many properties owned by the Jamaat would be sold to make up for the cost of the destruction of buildings in the 1990 Coup. An inquiry was formally launched in 2010. On March 13, 2014, the final report[2] was presented to President Anthony Carmona.