The Survivors

The Survivors: The Politicians

From 27 July to 1 August 1990, the Jamaat Al Muslimeen (JAM) held hostage the Parliamentarians and the staff at Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT). In the Parliamentary Chamber at “the Red House”, the Prime Minister, Hon. A.N.R. Robinson, six members of the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago and ten other Members of Parliament (MPs) were held hostage. Though these individuals were subjected to indignities they persevered and showed remarkable courage in the face of adversity.  By honouring these courageous individuals we acknowledge their ordeal, their strength of purpose and make public the appreciation and gratitude felt by the people of Trinidad and Tobago.  The Commission of Enquiry Report highlights some of their struggles, excerpts of which are shared for public awareness of their ordeal.


Excerpts taken from the Commission of Enquiry Report into the 1990 Coup: 



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“No words can adequately describe the harrowing experiences of those Parliamentarians who were held hostage for six days and subjected to unspeakable indignities, they were the victims of cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment and still bear the psychological scars of their ordeal, such as a lingering hurt, bitterness and resentment. There was a qualitative discrimination on the part of the JAM in the manner in which they meted out torture. All of the MPs were bound for at least a part of their incarceration, denied the use of toilet facilities until the Sunday, 29 July, starved of food, endured the malodorous environment of the Parliamentary Chamber as a consequence of a lack of ablutions and were affected by fear and trepidation.

The MPs were systematically tied up with pieces of hard plastic material which became tighter the more they tried to ease themselves. Prime Minister Robinson and Ministers Richardson and Wilson were the victims of special, cruel and inhumane treatment, which were extreme brutality. Mr. Robinson bore his pain with stoic determination and great dignity, he refused to drink even water out of fear of being poisoned by the JAM. His instruction to the security forces to “attack with full force” was an exceedingly defiant and courageous display of leadership in the face of vicious criminals.


Many MPs were beaten and or injured. Leo des Vignes died from a gunshot wound to one of his legs. Prime Minister Robinson was struck in his head and face, badly beaten and subsequently shot in his leg. Mr. Richardson was struck violently in his face with the butt of a gun. Mr. Winston Dookeran, the Minister responsible for Planning, was cuffed in his face by an insurgent. Mr. Selby Wilson, the Minister of Finance and the Economy, was beaten about his head and threatened by an insurgent with a gun that he would be thrown through a window. Mr. Trevor Sudama suffered an abrasion from a bullet which grazed one of his feet. The Deputy Speaker, Dr. St. George, was beaten and subjected to humiliating indignities



Mrs. Jennifer Johnson, the Minister of Youth, Sport, Culture and the Creative Arts, and Mrs. Gloria Henry, Minister of Social Development and Family Services experienced fear and endured indignities and they were eye witnesses to the violence against their fellow parliamentary members. Dr. Hosein who suffered the effects of polio as a child and bore the disabilities associated with his affliction was tied by his sick leg. Nevertheless, he brought his medical expertise to bear during his period of captivity and ministered to fellow MPs who were injured and tried to subdue a member of the JAM who had gone berserk. Mr. Sudama received a wound to one of his feet from a bullet which grazed his foot.


Mr. Raphael was a witness to violence against some of his colleague MPs. He witnessed Mr. Leo des Vignes being shot and saw when Minister Richardson was struck on the back of his head with the butt of a gun. Mr. Pallackdharrysingh had fled from the Chamber and was hiding in a Committee room but he was captured and brought back to the Chamber and placed with other MPs in the well of the Chamber with his hands behind his back…

These persons have rendered exceptional service or displayed bravery during and immediately after the insurrection and should be honoured for the part they played during that time of crisis.”


1. Hon. Arthur N. R. Robinson the Prime Minister
2. Mr. Winston Dookeran
3. Mr. Leo D Vignes   (Died)
4. Mr. Selwyn Richardson
5. Mr. Joseph Toney
6. Mr. Selby Wilson
7. Mr. Rawle Raphael
8. Mrs. Jennifer Johnson
9. Mr. Kelvin Ramnath
10. Mr. Trevor Sudama
11. Mr. John Humphrey
12. Miss Gloria Henry
13. Mr. Eden Shand
14. Mr. Raymond Palackdharrysingh
15. Mr. Anselm St. George    (Deputy Speaker)
16. Dr. Emanuel Hosein
17. Mr. Martin Thompson
18. Mr. Reynold Fernandes, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security
19. Mr. Mervyn Assam, former High Commissioner to London

The Survivors: The Media


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During the 1990 attempted Coup, Journalists and workers in the electronic and print media were highly proactive and showed tremendous initiative and patriotism, despite the fear for their lives. The level of commitment to duty they demonstrated in informing the public during the crisis is highly commendable and thus we as a people should acknowledge and honour the contribution they made in this pivotal part of our history.

Excerpts taken from the Commission of Enquiry Report into the 1990 Coup: 

On Friday, 27th  July 1990, armed members of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen (the JAM) led by the leader of the JAM, Imam Yasin Abu Bakr (Abu Bakr) staged an insurrection in Port of Spain and invaded Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT), held the staff hostage and assumed control of the broadcast.

Despite the frightening experience of being held captive for six days, the hostages at TTT displayed tremendous courage and aided by the foresight and resourcefulness of Mr. Bernard Pantin who took the initiative and devised a stratagem to bypass broadcasts by Imam Abu Bakr and establish a temporary broadcast facility at Camp Ogden. Mr Pantin’s initiative led to getting Imam Abu Bakr off air and allowed the interim Government a facility from which official broadcasts were made.

This facility allowed TTT to continue informing and offering hope to the populace of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) and provided Government Ministers the opportunity to inform them of important matters such as; the functioning of the health services, the water supply, the closure and re-opening of the airport and the pledges of support for the Government of Trinidad and Tobago from foreign countries.

Mr. Madeira and Mr. Kallipersad also of TTT made substantial contributions to the nation of T&T by displaying excellent leadership and skills in dealing with Imam Abu Bakr and his co-conspirators. Despite great fear for their own personal safety and life they engaged the young Jamaat gunmen in conversation to ascertain the reasons for their violent actions and they seized every opportunity to assure families of the hostages, and the general public, that the hostages were safe and well.

Mr. Carr of Radio Trinidad went beyond the call of duty at Camp Ogden where he assisted in broadcasts. Despite the great risks to his life Mr. Carr obtained information from soldiers positioned at CLICO Building in order to keep the public informed about the crisis. He played calming, patriotic music in an attempt to reduce the tension of the people and appealed to the population to stay calm and pray. Mr. Emmett Hennessy another employee of Radio Trinidad was another stellar example of patriotism. The morning after being shot, despite his continued fear, he offered his services and did actual broadcasts at Camp Ogden.

Mr. Dennis McComie of Radio 610 forfeited his vacation when he saw Police Headquarters ablaze, he immediately returned to the NBS building which housed 610 Radio and broadcast a news story of the destruction of Police Headquarters and pleaded for assistance. Mr. McComie along with Kelly Buckradee, Gerard Lampow, Derek Timothy, Messrs. Clinton and Harper referred to as “The Six Ten Six” main intention was to try to comfort and inform the radio listeners while operating against a background of “violence, fear, chaos and confusion, and the sounds of rapid gunfire and explosions in the city.

The print media also played a noteworthy part in keeping the people of T&T informed. The Express newspaper was published every day during the crisis. Reporters at the Express, such as Andy Johnson, David Maynard, Ucill Cambridge, Keith Smith, Lennox Grant, Susan Lopez, Ria Taitt, Marlon Miller and Kirk Perreira kept the public informed through articles and photographs. Mr. Miller and Ms. Cambridge wrote stories which told a graphic tale of the nature and extent of looting, especially in Port of Spain. The Guardian newspaper appeared every day during the crisis, except for Saturday, 28 July, and similarly, the Guardian reporters and journalists also kept the public informed through articles and photographs. Gail Alexander, John Babb, Sita Bridgmohan, Noel Saldenha, Francis Joseph, Natalie Williams and Fulton Wilson made up the Guardian’s team. The Trinidad and Tobago Mirror, a weekly newspaper, was also published daily during the six days of the crisis.



1. Mr. Glenville Kissoon
2. Mr. Lancelot Sergeant
3. Mr. Lloyd Rochel
4. Mr. Jones P Madeira
5. Mr. Verne Bernette
6. Mr. Gideon Hanoomansingh
7. Mr. Richard Thomas
8. Mr. Dominic Kalipersad
9. Mr. Larry Carr
10. Mr. James Kissoon
11. Mr. Buddy Andrews
12. Mr. Richard Purcell
13. Mr. Andre Gellineau
14. Mr. Jasmalludin Soonath
15. Mr. Suresh Kewall
16. Mr. Clyde L’Orielhd
17. Mr. Henson Bovell
18. Mr. Noel Simeon
19. Civilian who visited TTT to view Programme
20. Civilian who visited TTT to view Programme
21. Mr. Raoul Pantin
22. Mr. Raoul Borde
23. Mr. John James
24. Mr. Selwyn Smith
25. Mr. Nestor Hernandez
26. Anthony Berment
27. Ricardo James
28. Hugh Pierre
29. Bernard Pantin


1.         Mr. Pius Mason
2.         Mr. Emmett Hennessy
3.         Eddison Carr
4.         Sookram Ali,
5.         McDonald Holder,
6.         Harold Thompson,
7.         Michael London


1. Mr. Dennis McComie
2. Kelly Buckradee,
3. Gerard Lampow,
4. DerekTimothy
5. Messrs. Clinton
6. Messrs Harper


1.         Andy Johnson,
2.         David Maynard,
3.         Ucill Cambridge,
4.         Keith Smith,
5.         Lennox Grant,
6.         Susan Lopez,
7.         Ria Taitt,
8.         Marlon Miller
9.         Kirk Perreira



1. Gail Alexander,
2. John Babb,
3. Sita Bridgmohan,
4. Noel Saldenha,
5. Francis Joseph,
6. Natalie Williams
7. Fulton Wilson