1990 – 20 YEARS LATER IN TRINIDAD: ANNIVERSARY OF THE MUSLIMEEN UPRISING

Friday 27 July 1990:

  • Jamaat al Muslimeen gunmen invaded parliament and took as hostages the then Prime Minister A.N.R. Robinson, Cabinet Ministers, other Members of Parliament, officials and visitors.
  • An explosion occurred at Police Headquarters on St. Vincent street when a Jamaat – al – Muslimeen operative drove a car bomb into the building. A police officer was killed.
  • Imam Yasin Abu Bakr, leader of the Jamaat – al – Muslimeen led another group in capturing the television House on Maraval Road. The staff of Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT)and other persons were taken as hostages.
  • Radio Trinidad was also captured.
  • The Imam appeared on television and after 6:00 pm to announce the overthrow of the government. He promised that elections would be held in thirty days.
  • Looting and destruction of property occurred even as the Regiment attempted to contain the situation at the Red House.
  • Environment and National Security Minister Lincoln Myers and Education Minister Senator Clive Pantin appeared on television from Camp Ogden to re-assure the nation that the government had not fallen.
  • Colonel Ralph Brown re-assured the nation that the Defence Force did not collaborate with “the perpetrators of this act.”

Saturday 28th July 1990:

  • Acting President Emmanuel Carter appeared on television and declared a state of emergency. A dusk to dawn curfew of 12 hours was imposed in most areas, One of twenty two hours was imposed downtown around the Red House and environs, areas mostly badly affected by looting and fires.
  • Closure of Piarco Airport until further notice.
  • Planning and Mobilisation Minister Winston Dookeran was released earlier in the morning to start negotiations. Canon Knolly Clarke accompanied him    and acted as mediator between the government at Camp Ogden and security forces and the Muslimeen.
  • MP Leo des Vignes was injured during the course of the assault and was allowed to leave for the hospital.
  • Meeting of Cabinet Ministers at Camp Ogden.

Sunday 29th July 2010:

  • Ministers who had not been captured appear on television.
  • Imam Yasim Abu Bakr had sent messages to Camp Ogden to stop jamming the television transmission. He threatened to place explosives on the hostages.
  • Hostages at radio Trinidad released and broadcasting resumes from the temporary location at Camp Ogden.
  • The curfew was extended to eighteen hours everywhere (6 p.m. to 12 noon), 24 hours around the Red House, and 22 hours (3 p.m. to 1 p.m.) around TTT.
  • Negotiations were taking place and there were urgent appeals for Jones P. Madeira to communicate with either Radio 610 or the Red House.

Monday 30th July 1990:

  • Unconfirmed report that TTT was on fire, but government broadcasts state that only the annex was gutted.
  • Reports of an agreement between the hostages in the Red House and the Muslimeen. The terms included an amnesty for all Muslimeen members involved in the insurrection; the resignation of the Prime Minister; the installation of Winston Dookeran as interim Prime Minister; and the holding of elections within 90 days.
  • The Prime Minister spoke to members of the local and overseas media to ask for the implementation of the agreement and the release of the hostages.
  • Cabinet Ministers Dr. Brinsley Samaroo (Food Production) and Dr. Bhoe Tewarie (Industry, Enterprise and Tourism) returned from overseas and joined their colleagues at Camp Ogden.

Tuesday 31st July 1990:

  • The Prime Minister was released from the Red House.

Wednesday 1st August 1990:

  • Reports had arisen of unconditional surrender by Abu Bakr and his men.
  • The 1st hostages emerged from Trinidad and Tobago television at 1:00 pm.
  • Youth, Sport, Culture and Creative Arts Minister Jennifer Johnson was the first hostage to be released from the Red House.
  • Bakr himself emerged at 2 p.m. He laid down his gun and watched his men leave the building. The Defence Force drove the hostage takers away to Defence Force headquarters at Chaguaramas.
  • M.P. Leo des Vignes died in hospital.

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