THE events that occurred 23 years ago that lasted for six days and five nights would have been avoided had the then government of the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) obeyed the law of the land.
This is according to Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr, the man, who on this day 23 years, ago led 113 insurgents in a failed coup to overthrow the then NAR government led by Arthur NR Robinson. Twenty-four people died during the siege.
Abu Bakr yesterday led a commemorative walk from the Red House, where Parliament was held in 1990, to the Port of Spain Waterfront, where the Parliament is currently held pending refurbishment of the Red House.
At the end of the march, Abu Bakr spoke with members of the media, saying he wanted to remind the country and specifically the Government to obey the law.
“All that (the attempted coup) would have been avoided, had the government obeyed the law. We are just reminding them to obey the law because it leads to anarchy. So we need to remind governments: don’t disobey the law,” Abu Bakr said.
When asked why he decided to hold the march, given that many in society have not forgiven him and saw it as a sign of disrespect, Abu Bakr said he just wanted to remind people that all governments must obey the rule of law.
Asked if he has seen anything now reminiscent of what triggered the 1990 attempted coup, Abu Bakr said that was a political question and he is a priest and therefore he would not be able to answer.
Asked what would happen if the Government disobeyed the law again, he added that he was not a “seer man” and could not see the future and had no knowledge of it.
A leaflet handed out throughout the march stated that the insurrection was not an attempt to turn the country into an Islamic state, that the majority of deaths were by the bullets of both the regiment and police, the hostages were “corrupt politicians” and Abu Bakr was deemed a hero because women named their children after him.
The leaflet stated that the Jamaat has taken full responsibility for its actions, unlike politicians, and there was need for forgiveness and healing. It added that the attempted coup was not about power and terrorism, but was a revolution.
Abu Bakr then thanked the police for granting him permission to hold the march.
Responding to questions from the media at an Emancipation Day celebration at the Police Administration Building yesterday, acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams said he gave the Jamaat permission to march because this is a democratic country.
Some people took to social media yesterday to voice their dissatisfaction at the authorities to grant the Jamaat permission to march, calling it a slap in the face for those who suffered loss and injury and those who died as a result of Abu Bakr’s decision. • See Page 19