Former Jamaat al Muslimeen insurgent Jamaal Shabazz has warned the trade union movement not to light a match if they do not want fire.He sent out the warning yesterday while giving evidence at the Commission of Enquiry at the Caribbean Court of Justice into the July 1990 attempted overthrow of the government. Shabazz, one of the coup d'etat leaders, led the attack on Radio Trinidad during the six-day uprising by the Jamaat al Muslimeen.He told the commission he heard trade union leaders saying recently the Government had to go.
"I am advising them, do not light a match if you don't want fire," he said.Shabazz said the present social climate in the country was "very, very similar" to that which preceded the July 1990 attempted coup.He recalled that the Summit of the People Organisation (SOPO), an amalgamation of trade unions and ad hoc groups, supported by the Jamaat, Opposition politicians and high-profile individuals, like Canon Knolly Clarke and the late Archbishop Anthony Pantin, vowed in 1990 to go to the end to remove the then National Alliance for Reconstruction Government.
He said they were protesting and demonstrating all over the country on a regular basis.The Joint Trade Union Movement is expected to stage a massive protest today.It has been distributing fliers during the past week, inviting people to assemble at the Brian Lara Promenade this morning.Expressing his desire for reconciliation with society, Shabazz told how his involvement in the 1990 uprising affected his career in football, how he was victimised for years after and even how it affected his children's lives.
He said he was banned from travelling to the United States and was arrested during an attempt to get there.He told how in 1990 the Muslimeen felt SOPO would ensure people took to the streets after they staged the uprising.He said they were even confident the army would support it.Shabazz said at no time did he ever believe the Muslimeen would have had to confront the Defence Force, which successfully quelled the insurrection.
Asked by commission chairman, Sir David Simmons, if he was naive to believe people would rally their cause, Shabazz replied:"I attended two meetings with SOPO and there was a clear consensus that the Government needed to be removed."Former radio broadcaster, Dennis McComie, giving evidence earlier this week, recalled that in an interview with Bakr during the crisis, the Imam told him people were out on the streets in numbers supporting the uprising and calling for him to be leader.McComie said Bakr was angry when he told him people were only looting.
Shabazz said just before the coup d'etat senior Jamaat member, Hasan Anyabwile, conveyed the impression that the Defence Force "will stand with us."He said after they staged the uprising he became fearful when he heard Brigadier Ralph Brown on radio saying that the army was not with the Muslimeen.Asked how Bakr could conclude that the army would support him, Shabazz replied: "As mad as he seems, sometimes, he's not totally insane.
"There must have been some level of discussion between him and members of the Defence Force."At times, the Muslimeen would take a brave stance but we are not suicidal."There must have been something there. Hasan had given me the assurance that the army would stand with us," Shabazz added.