“[…] As a result of Yasin Abu Bakr and 113 other brave men, governments had a little fear for the people after. Thus they at least threw crumbs for them. Also no government dared to go back to the IMF and bring austerity again—as this government is currently afraid to do.
“[…] Abu Bakr was that healthy fear that helped to ensure some level of democracy…”
The following Letter to the Editor on the passing of the controversial Imam Yasin Abu Bakr, who tried to overthrow the Trinidad and Tobago Government at gunpoint on 27 July 1990, was submitted to Wired868 by his son, Fuad Abu Bakr:
T&T barely has a democracy. Take a proper look at what was going on at the time. Mr ANR Robinson was, in my opinion, a dictator. Our constitution allows for a prime ministerial dictator as some are seeing even now with our PM’s ability to ‘interface’ or interfere with all offices and institutions of state. The separation of powers and independence of offices are but words.
There was a tremendous popular movement against the NAR as well in 1989. SOPO (Summit of People’s Organisations) and many others marched. Austerity and structural readjustment were very unpopular.
As my sociology teacher said, Yasin Abu Bakr belled the cat. He was the brave one to take military action against a government that was taking military action against him.
A government that refused to abide by the law in the illegal occupation of #1 Mucurapo Road by police and army. A government who thought they could rule after sidelining the entire ULF’s East Indian representatives. A government that killed a police woman and was allegedly involved in the narco trade.
The Imam said the straw that broke the camel’s back was the decision to spend hundreds of thousands to erect a statue of Jean Miles while there was no medicine in the hospital and children were starving—literally starving. So let’s put better context to 1990.
Let me assist further.
It was never established whose bullets killed who in the coup. Nor do they tell us the truth: that most people were killed by the police and army while looting. No one died in TTT where the Imam was, only combatants were killed in the Red House (see editor’s note below) and one brave police officer in Police Headquarters. RIP.
All injured, like Mr Robinson were allowed to go out for treatment.
As a result of Abu Bakr and 113 other brave men, governments had a little fear for the people after. Thus they at least threw crumbs for them. Also no government dared to go back to the IMF and bring austerity again—as this government is currently afraid to do.
To quote Thomas Jefferson: ‘Real democracy is when the government fears the people; when the people fear the government, that is tyranny.’
Abu Bakr was that healthy fear that helped to ensure some level of democracy. Good people had nothing to worry about with Abu Bakr, they came for his assistance at the mosque constantly.
A man that spoke out even in his last days. A man filled with love for people. A selfless man that risked his life.
Tireless service, he finally rests in peace.
Editor’s Note: Twenty-four people died during the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen’s attempted coup, including Leo Des Vignes—who was not a ‘combatant’ but the Diego Martin Central MP. Then Prime Minister ANR Robinson was beaten and shot in his leg. There were also millions in losses in the form of damage to property.
Abu Bakr and his men were subsequently charged for treason. However, the Court of Appeal ruled that the amnesty given to the Muslimeen as a condition of their surrender was valid. The Privy Council later overturned that court ruling but said it would bean abuse of process to re-arrest the freed men. They were never re-arrested.
The disputed land on Mucurapo Road had allegedly been given by Government to the Islamic Missionaries Guild (IMG) in 1969. However, since the land belonged to the city and not the government, the transfer was declared invalid and in 1984 a court ordered the Muslimeen to vacate the premises.
To date, the Muslimeen continue to occupy the land.