“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Report: Compensate coup hostages
Parliamentarians who were held hostage during the 1990 attempted coup should be compensated for their injuries and otherwise “harrowing and traumatic experiences.” This was one of the recommendations made in the Report of the Commission of Enquiry into the 1990 attempted coup which was laid in Parliament on Friday by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Compensation, both monetary and non-monetary, was also recommended for hostages, victims and people who displayed bravery during the event.
“No evidence was adduced to the commission that any of the Parliamentarians held hostage were ever compensated,” the report read. “The commission recommends that all parliamentarians who were held hostage be compensated for their injuries and otherwise harrowing and traumatic experiences.” “In relation to those who have died since the attempted coup but were victims of violence, their surviving next of kin should receive compensation on behalf of the deceased.”
In the first chapter of the document, the commission recommended that Government fix a limit for the amount of compensation for each category of victim after a preliminary report has been submitted to the Cabinet. The report said a special unit should be established to make appropriate awards according to the respective categories The report identified nine police officers, who either died or were injured during the attempted coup and five civilians in Parliament on July 27, 1990 to be considered for compensation.
Journalist Raoul Pantin, who was said to have suffered a personality change with serious consequences and all of the hostages at local television station TTT were also listed for consideration for compensation. Veteran Journalist Jones P Madeira and Directv general manager Bernard Pantin were also highlighted for assisting in keeping Imam Abu Bakr, leader of the Jamaat al Muslimeen, off the airwaves. The report said they should be recognised by an appropriate non-monetary award.
In a brief interview yesterday, Bernard Pantin said: “If that is the recommendation, I would be humbled by it. At the time though, I did what I felt was needed to be done.” The report provided a list of 18 individuals and organisations recommended to be considered for a special medal of honour.
Special medal of honour recommendations
• Dr. Emmanuel Hosein
• Rear Admiral Richard Kelshall and the Coast Guard
• Jones P. Madeira
• Dennis McComie and the five people who kept Radio 610 on air during the insurrection
• The hostages at the Red House and at TTT
• Canon Knolly Clarke
• Winston Dookeran
• Emmanuel Carter
• The Cadet Corps
• Alloy Lequay
• Dr. Romesh Mootoo
• Tim Lambkin
• Jensen Fox
• Mervyn Telfer
• Morvant/Laventille Improvement Organisation