Persecution of Non-Muslims (Trinidad and Tobago)

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Note that the persecution of apostates and the persecution of homosexuals are covered in separate pages

The 1990 Muslimeen revolt: Six days of Islamic terror, hostage-taking and car-bombs leave about twenty-four people dead and millions in property losses

The following is an account of events which took place in 1990.

Friday 27 July 1990:

  • Jamaat-al-Muslimeen gunmen invade parliament and take as hostages the then Prime Minister ANR Robinson, Cabinet Ministers, other Members of Parlimanent, officials and visitors.
  • An explosion occurs at Police Headquarters on St. Vincent street when a Jamaat-al-Muslimeen operative drives a car bomb into the building. A police officer is killed.
  • Imam Yasin Abu Bakr, leader of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen, leads another group in capturing the television house on Maraval Road. The staff of Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) and other persons are taken as hostages.
  • Radio Trinidad is also captured.
  • The Imam appears on television and after 6:00 pm announces the overthrow of the government. He promises that elections will be held in thirty days.
  • Looting and destruction of property occur 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 appear on television from Camp Ogden to re-assure the nation that the government has not fallen.
  • Colonel Ralph Brown re-assures the nation that the Defence Force did not collaborate with “the perpetrators of this act.”

Saturday 28th July 1990:

  • Acting President Emmanuel Carter appears on television and declares a State of Emergency. A dusk to dawn curfew of 12 hours is imposed in most areas. One of 22 hours is imposed downtown around the Red House and environs, the areas most badly affected by looting and fires.
  • Piarco Airport is closed until further notice.
  • Planning and Mobilisation Minister Winston Dookeran is released in the morning to start negotiations. Canon Knolly Clarke accompanies him to act as mediator between the government at Camp Ogden and security forces and the Muslimeen.
  • MP Leo des Vignes, who was injured during the course of the assault, is allowed to leave for the hospital.
  • Meeting of Cabinet Ministers at Camp Ogden.

Sunday 29th July 1990:

  • Ministers who had not been captured appeared on television.
  • Imam Yasim Abu Bakr sent messages to Camp Ogden demanding they stop jamming the television transmission. He threatened to place explosives on the hostages.
  • Hostages at Radio Trinidad are released and broadcasting resumes from the temporary location at Camp Ogden.
  • The curfew is extended to eighteen hours everywhere (6:00 p.m. to 12 noon), 24 hours around the Red House, and 22 hours (3:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.) around TTT.
  • Negotiations take place and there are urgent appeals for Jones P. Madeira to communicate with either Radio 610 or the Red House.

Monday 30th July 1990:

  • Unconfirmed report that TTT is on fire, but government broadcasts state that only the annex has been gutted.
  • There are 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 speaks 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) return from overseas and join their collegues at Camp Ogden.

Tuesday 31st July 1990:

The Prime Minister is released from the Red House.

Wednesday 1st August 1990:

  • Reports arise of unconditional surrender by Abu Bakr and his men.
  • The first hostages emerge from Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) at 1:00 pm.
  • Youth, Sport, Culture and Creative Arts Minister Jennifer Johnson is the first hostage to be released from the Red House.
  • Bakr himself emerges at 2:00 p.m. He lays down his gun and watches his men leave the building. The Defence Force drives the hostage takers away to Defence Force headquarters at Chaguaramas.
  • M.P. Leo des Vignes dies in hospital.


Grant, Lennox; Lopez, Suzanne; Smith, Keith; John, Deborah; Johnson, Andy; Miller, Marlon; Cambridge, Ucill; Maynard, David; Baptiste, Simon; Taitt, Ria. Trinidad Under Siege: The Muslimeen Uprising, 6 Days of Terror; Port-of-Spain: Express House, 1990. 97-98. Print.