29 years ago, members of the Jamaat al-Muslimeen lay siege to this country and to the democratic principles which we hold dear. The nation looked on in horror as, with guns blazing, the insurrectionists assaulted, terrorised and held captive members of Parliament and the public.
When the dust had settled, 24 people were dead, over 200 were injured and millions of dollars in property damage had been incurred in and around the capital city.
Despite the great and lasting impact of those six days of terror, all the names of those who perished are not readily available. We are able to identify, Mr. Leo des Vignes, Member of Parliament for Diego Martin Central; SRP Solomon McLeod; ASP Roger George; Estate Constable Malcolm Basanta; George Francis; Arthur Guiseppi; Helen Lavia; Lorraine Caballero and Mervyn Teague as being among the 24 citizens who lost their lives in the most brazen assault on our democracy in history.
The fact that some victims of the attempted coup remain nameless and faceless is testimony to our short memories and disregard for human life and dignity. By allowing victims of the violence to go unrecognised by the nation, we chance diminishing the weight of the impact of the attempted coup on society and risk becoming immune to brutality in all its forms. Every citizen should be concerned that for such a significant event, there is no official commemoration nor is there an official list of all the casualties. The Office of the President has searched widely but in vain.
To this day, many survivors of the attempted coup suffer physically and mentally from their experiences during and following the insurrection. Today we recognise the wounded, the bereaved and those who suffered financial loss. We remember also the unsung heroes—the emergency services, many of whom worked long hours without relief; the protective services and mediators who worked tirelessly to end the siege; and the journalists who risked life and limb to update the nation as events unfolded.
July 27 is an opportunity for us all to recommit to our respect for human rights and dignity and to the democratic principles which underpin our nation. The bloodshed, fear and misery of those six dark days, thus far unmatched in the history of the nation, should remain at the forefront of our collective memory to ensure that such an attack never again occurs.