Tue | Sep 28, 2021

President calls for fitting annual observance of failed coup attempt

Published:Wednesday | July 28, 2021 | 12:09 AM
Paula Mae Weekes
Paula Mae Weekes

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):

Trinidad and Tobago is marking the 31st anniversary of the failed coup attempt by a radical Muslim group, the Jamaat Al’Muslimeen, with President Paula Mae Weekes laying a wreath in remembrance of those who perished during the attempted coup d’état, “as well as those forgotten victims who lost their businesses, sense of normalcy, dignity and peace of mind”.

In a message to mark the occasion, the head of state reiterated her call “for a fitting annual national observance” to mark the occasion.

She recalled that on July 27, 1990, a group of “heavily armed insurrectionists,” led by Yasin Abu Bakr, stormed its way into the seat of government and attempted to take for themselves the reins of power.

“The confusion of many citizens, who initially assumed the events unfolding live on television were part of a performance, soon turned into disbelief, which gave way to horror as the nation’s capital burned and the grim reality of a six-day siege set in.

“In the harrowing aftermath, 24 citizens were dead, countless people were physically, psychologically and emotionally scarred, and hundreds of millions of dollars in property had gone up in smoke,” she said in her statement.

President Weekes said that while 31 years have elapsed, “the painful memories of the dreadful events remain seared in the minds of those who were front-row witnesses and casualties of one of the most brazen and senseless assaults in the history of our nation’s democracy”.

“It is important to note, however, that while the shocking images of those six days will not be easily forgotten by those alive at the time, there will soon be an entire generation of people with little or no awareness or connection to the events of 1990.”

She said that many young people today have never fully understood nor appreciated the impact of those events on the landscape and trajectory of the nation, quoting the Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana, who once said, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’.

“If we are to learn from our history, we must preserve and transmit it in a form that is meaningful, memorable, unambiguous and potent. In 2018, I called for a proper and fitting annual national observance to commemorate the attempted coup, and today I renew that appeal.

“While wreath laying pays tribute to the dead, this dark chapter of our history merits a permanent memorial that would capture the horror and chaos of those six days with appropriate images, testimonials and historical information. Such a museum-quality display would reliably impart to present and future generations, the events, causes and consequences of the attempted coup d’état.”