‘Bloodshed’ fears, not PM motivate church
The Chairman of the National Council of Churches, Reverend Le’aupepe Kasiano Le’aupepe, has vehemently denied claims he visited Satapuala on an order from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.
Rev Le’aupepe was accompanied by an NCC delegation consisting of the President of the Methodist Church, Reverend Aisoli Iuli and Reverend Nu’uausala Siaosi of the Apia Protestant Church. Speaking to the Sunday Samoan yesterday, Rev Le’aupepe said the claims by Satapuala that they were sent there by Prime Minister Tuilaepa were wrong. “There was no meeting with the Prime Minister or the Government for us to go there,” Rev Le’aupepe said.
“It was a decision by the Council to try and ensure no lives will be wasted and blood is not shed.” The Chairman said they visited because they wanted the people of Satapuala “to feel God’s presence and remind them that the heart of God is about keeping the peace.” Since the dispute between the village and Government over land resurfaced in May, Rev Le’aupepe said the NCC has been monitoring the developments.
“When we heard that there were people from Satapuala hiding under trees in the area where the government is planning to build the hospital, waiting for anyone that might dare to set foot on the land to start the work, we thought that it was time we visit the village.
“So the Council members decided for us to visit to ensure that the lives of people are protected and that no blood is shed or lost. Our visit therefore was a peace mission. We didn't go because the Prime Minister told us to. “We never met the Prime Minister.
“Where there is a risk of blood being spilt and there is danger to the lives of people, the Council has work to do.” During the meeting with the village, the Chairman said they urged them to exercise patience, tolerance and to continue to dialogue with the Government. He said they were told by Satapuala that “their heritage from God was the land.”
“We believe that too. But we also know that their ancestors and parents who had given these lands away had different intentions at the time.”
Perhaps they weren’t thinking about today, Rev Leaupepe said. “And this is where the opposition from Satapuala stems from.” The NCC believes the Government’s plan to build a hospital in the area is very important.
“I think the government should consider offering the job of constructing the hospital to people from the village so they can earn a living for their families,” said Rev Leaupepe. “That’s one way of moving forward and towards reconciliation.”
On Friday, a Satapuala matai, Vaili Mimita II told the Samoa Observer they politely thanked the NCC for their visit and told them that Satapuala’s decision stands.