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Satapuala villagers: Acting “like stinking pigs run amok”

reporters@samoanews.com

“No leader will sit back and allow people who act like stinking pigs to run amok. “Satapuala has done disgraceful things on public roads. “My message to Satapuala and other villages who challenge the government is this; this government and their leader will not sit back and let them do filthy things”

This was the message from furious Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi when approached by the Samoa Observer on Thursday (Samoa time) in regards to Satapuala villagers who blocked the road starting Wednesday night (Samoa time).

Samoa Observer reports that Tuilaepa said, “This kind of attitude is shameful to the country… it’s unacceptable. That’s why I’ve ordered to have all of them arrested. If not bring in their Ali’i ma Faipule and charge them all.”

According to the Prime Minister, Satapuala’s roadblock started on Wednesday night; and he accused Satapuala of holding passengers that came on the plane at gunpoint, including tourists.

Tuilaepa was apparently among the passengers on the late night/ early morning flight returning from New Zealand where he had been conferred an honorary doctorate.

“Who are they to do things like this?” he said.

The Prime Minister said the police had given Satapuala too many chances, adding the village should never interfere with developments of the country.

“This is a development that benefits the district of A’ana and the village of Satapuala. “That shows how uneducated they are.”

Tuilaepa further warned Members of Parliament, whom he said are “behind the push of challenging the government.” He did not give any names.

 

NO ONE INJURED

Samoa News spoke to Assistant Police Commissioner Leaupepe Fatu Pula who assured that no one was injured and that police had to use necessary force with some of the Satapuala villagers due to their ignorance of the law. He noted that no one was arrested from Satapuala following the road block.

Leaupepe told Samoa News police were geared up, with bullet proof vests and they were armed and they were alert.

“It’s sad that it had come to this however, the police are doing its job and thankfully no one was injured,” he told Samoa News.

Samoa Observer reports police officers on Thursday moved onto Satapuala land, while other officers removed the “ma’a” or rocks that Satapuala used to block the Faleolo road.

CONFRONTATION

Vaili Mimita II the spokesperson for the Satapuala Village Council told the Samoa Observer, “When the police arrived, our village had gathered around the roadblock area… They came and they fired gunshots into the air as a warning. When we moved up closed to them, they warned our village with more gunshots.”

Vaili claimed he was injured during the brief confrontation with police officers. He told the Samoa Observer he tried to wrestle a gun from one of the officers who pushed him off with the warning; “Back off, if you want to live.”

The village spokesman said that’s when he looked at the women and young people around and he made the decision to withdraw quite quickly.

“I knew it would be endless bloodshed,” Vaili said. “The police were armed and some people from our village were also armed. It would’ve been an all out war.

“So I moved back and yelled at our village to retreat. That’s when the police continued through. They were still firing shots into the air.”

Samoa Observer reports that on Thursday morning (Samoa time) over a hundred untitled men of Satapuala dotted the sides of the road at Satapuala wearing masks and balaclavas. Some openly brandished machetes, rocks and bottles of kerosene. There were also many women and children.

In the afternoon when the police arrived, the Samoa Observer said, they closed off the main road and manned the roadblock at Faleatiu, causing massive traffic delays.

Among the people affected were passengers of an Air New Zealand flight in the afternoon. When some motorists insisted they be let through, officers responded; “Let us do our work and for your safety … back-off.”

Another officer said; “Just be patient. No vessel, air plane will take off from the airport for safety reasons.”

Media in Samoa were also told by police to back off. Samoa News was able to publish our story with photos of the confrontation yesterday from a source, who asked to be anonymous.

BACKGROUND

Vaili told the Samoa Observer that Thursday was a day he would never forget.

The roadblock, which started on Wednesday night, was manned by untitled men of the village. “The message of the roadblock was simple,” said Vaili. “We want the government to take what we’re saying seriously. We’ve had enough of the Prime Minister’s childish attitude. We want our land back.”

The land in question involves 10 acres of land the Samoa government is planning to build a hospital on. The project is to be funded by the United States of America. Since June, Satapuala has been interfering with government surveyors sent there to assess the land; and last Friday, the police who were sent in with the surveyors were turned away. Vaili said their village continues to oppose the construction of a hospital.

“We staged the roadblock because we were told that the deadline for the government to survey the disputed land is Friday (yesterday - Samoa time),” said Vaili. “We’ve also been told that the United States government officials, who are in the country will leave on Friday if the survey is not done by then.

“So this is why we wanted the government to hear us. We want the US officials to go back home and let us settle this matter first. We don't want our land to be surveyed, we don't want a hospital. All we want is a satisfactory answer to our plea.”

Vaili said they’ve been told the United States is threatening to withdraw its offer if the work on the hospital doesn't start soon.



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