Trinidad & Tobago: Emancipation Means Freedom for All

Caribbean bloggers seemed to hardly pay attention to Emancipation Day yesterday (although Twitter was full of snippets and photos chronicling the celebrations and many Facebook users were sharing status updates about how they spent the holiday).

In Trinidad and Tobago, however, freedom of a different kind was on the minds of bloggers as they shared their thoughts about the attempted 1990 coup (the 23rd anniversary of the foiled uprising was marked on July 27).

The United Voice blog noted that there are still questions concerning the coup attempt that need to be answered:

Up to now, we still have no completed investigation into this travesty. The perpetrators, or those still alive after their own internal bloodlettings, still walk free among us, arrogant and calling their own terms to appear before the still ongoing, albeit very belated Inquiry into the treason and murders of those days. But we have hope that we will get answers in the expected Report of the Inquiry into that event.

Plain Talk was incredulous over the fact that the perpetrators could have been granted a license to march on the day before the anniversary, ostensibly to remind people of the reason behind the insurrection:

When the Acting Commissioner of Police gave the Jamaat al Muslimeen permission to march through the very city they attacked so violently twenty three years ago, did he not possess the presence of mind to imagine how it would come across to the survivors of that horrific event and to law abiding people everywhere?

Talk about rubbing salt in a wound, many of the same businessmen on Frederick Street who rebuilt their businesses out of sheer determination after losing everything to the looting…had to look on in quiet anger as those responsible sauntered by. Many were left with debt that carried on long after those who committed this atrocity managed to squirm free of justice, and it is dark irony indeed that it is only though their determination that the very city these anarchists marched through today rose from the ashes of their violence.

What of those who lost loved ones, to whom the anniversary of this horrific event is a fresh opportunity to mourn?

He continued:

In our zeal to appear all things to all people we sometimes lose perspective of the trees for the forest. These victims are all people, and they were wronged in 1990, and they were wronged again on a Friday evening in 2013.

Can you imagine Al Qaeda terrorists being granted permission to march through New York City to commemorate 9/11? Or even being interviewed at the end of that march as to why they did what they did?

Phillip Edward Alexander ended his post by saying:

Granting them permission to march as conquering heroes through the capital city they so brutally attacked was an unforgivable abandonment of reason. The Acting Commissioner of Police, he had a choice. He could have said no. He should have said no. Make no mistake, this march was a slap in the face of every law abiding citizen of this country, and the fact that they got permission so to do makes it that much more abominable. As if we needed another clear demonstration of how badly off course we as a nation are.

Mark Lyndersay, who covered the coup as a photographer back in 1990, held a different view:

As someone who personally had a Muslimeen gun pointed at his head on July 27, 1990 while in pursuit of my duties as the first Picture Editor of the Guardian, I've got to say that watching Yasin Abu Bakr and his cronies stroll along the streets of Port of Spain escorted by the police, I felt a real annoyance and resentment.

But then, that's what we fought for back then. Whether it was manning a large gun in response to the insurrection or publishing a newspaper from a building frequently peppered by gunfire, the only civil response to terrorism is ultimately the practice of constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, which include those that allow us to gather and represent our points of view, as unwelcome as they may be.

So Yasin Abu Bakr applies to the Police Commissioner for permission to march in the city, not only gets permission, but a protective escort. You may see affront. I see a success for democracy and free speech. We win.

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