50 Interesting Facts about Coups

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26Thai Coup Sandwiches

During the 2014 Thai coup d'etat, sandwiches were used as an anti-coup symbol, and a group of students were charged with “possessing sandwiches with ill intent.”


27. Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana who helped his country gain independence in 1957 was overthrown in a coup in 1966. He lived in exile in Guinea and was made the honorary co-president of the country.


28. One of the currencies in early colonial Australia was Rum. New South Wales Corps officers bought up all the imported rum and established a monopoly on its trade. It resulted in Australia’s first and only military coup. It would later be called the Rum Rebellion.


29. Since it became an independent country in 1825, Bolivia has had more than 190 revolutions and coups.


30. In 1975, the Indian intelligence agency warned the Bangladeshi president (Sheikh Mujibur Rahman) about a possible coup. He ignored their advice by saying “These are my own children and they will not harm me.” Seven months later he was assassinated by some military officers. The coup was plotted by his closest political associates.


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31Liberian Coup

The western African nation of Liberia was founded by former American slaves. They instituted a right to vote based on property ownership, essentially denying native Liberians suffrage. As a result, no native Liberian became a president until 1980 when Samuel Doe staged a coup.


32. In 1992, a 25-year-old army captain named Valentine Strasser unintentionally overthrew Sierra Leone’s president (Joseph Momoh) while trying to protest a shortage of boots and wages for his fellow soldiers, thus becoming the world’s youngest head of state and ruling the nation for 4 subsequent years.


33. In 1984, a coup planned against Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu failed when the military unit assigned to carry out the plan was sent to harvest corn instead.


34. Empress Dowager Cixi, one of the numerous concubines in the court of Emperor Xianfeng, launched a successful coup after his death to unofficially control the Manchu Qing Dynasty. Despite facing many obstacles, Empress Dowager Cixi brought a medieval empire into the modern age, ruling China for almost 50 years.


35. The “30 September Movement” in Indonesia was an attempted coup by the Indonesian National Forces in 1965 where a wing of the army killed 7 generals and tried to capture the capital. The motive isn't confirmed, but evidence implicates the CIA and a double-crossing general.


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361970 Japanese Coup Attempt

Yukio Mishima was a world-renowned Japanese writer/artist who recruited over 100 students to form his own private army (Tatenokai). Later, in 1970, he committed seppuku (ritual suicide by disembowelment) in public after his failed coup attempt in an effort to restore imperial rule in Japan.


37. Between 1924 and 1935, Greece had 23 changes in government and 13 coups.


38. In 2012, the dead body of the President of Malawi (Bingu wa Mutharika) was flown to South Africa “for medical treatment” for a fatal heart attack. It was an unsuccessful attempt to hide his death and organize a coup while preventing the Vice President from taking office.


39. When Thailand was part of the Axis, it invaded and controlled territory in Burma, Laos, Malaysia, and Cambodia until a resistance movement overthrew the Thai government in 1944.


40. In 1981, a group of white African mercenaries tried to stage a coup d'état in Seychelles, disguising themselves as a rugby and beer social club which donated toys to orphans. The toys didn't conceal the AK47s in their luggage well enough and the plot completely failed.


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41Ugandan Coup

Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, a convert to Islam was responsible for the deaths of up to 400,000 people and was also once accused of cannibalism. He fled to Saudi Arabia after a coup in 1979 and was allowed to live there in exile for over 20 years until his death.


42. Turkey became an official ally of the U.S. after the CIA backed a right-wing coup there in 1980.


43. British Prime Minister Harold Wilson was so unliked by senior members of the army and MI5 that there allegedly were discussions about a military coup against the government in 1974.


44. The CIA orchestrated a coup in Syria in 1949 so that it could freely build an oil pipeline. The overthrow launched decades of counter-coups and CIA further tried on multiple occasions to orchestrate coups throughout the 1960s until the Assad family rose to power in 1970.


45. The only attempted coup by a radical Islamist group in the western hemisphere occurred in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in 1990. During the attempted coup d'état Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister A. N. R. Robinson was held hostage for days. When instructed to order the army to stop firing where they were held hostage, Robinson instead instructed them to “attack with full force,” which earned him a beating. He was also shot in his leg.


46Spanish Coup Leader

José Sanjurjo, a senior leader of the 1936 coup that started the Spanish Civil War, died at the start of the coup because his plane, which was dangerously overloaded with his luggage, crashed. When warned of the danger he said, “I need to wear proper clothes as the new leader of Spain.”


47. In 1992, Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori initiated a “self-coup.” Despite already being the democratic ruler of the country, he overthrew the Congress and Judiciary with military force and assumed full autocratic power.


48. In 1987, Thomas Sankara (then president of Burkina Faso) was killed in a coup held by Blaise Compaoré. Ten years earlier, they were in a band together called ‘Tout-à-Coup Jazz.’


49. A driving force behind the 1989 coup which saw the downfall of Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner, was concern that either Stroessner’s cocaine-addicted son, Alfredo, or his gay son, Gustavo, would one day succeed him.


50. Laos once had two coups independently occur on the same day, January 31st, 1965. Two separate and simultaneous coups struck the Kingdom of Laos.

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