The Samoa Solidarity International Group (S.S.I.G.) took part in the 56th Independence anniversary festivity yesterday morning.
They marched in Apia back in March and then in Savaii in April and this year they requested to be a part of the Independence celebrations.
More than 50 members of the S.S.I.G. were part of the parade, including members from New Zealand.
Members of the S.S.I.G. claimed that their initial request to participate in the march was denied. However, around 5pm on Thursday their application was granted to be a part of the parade.
Unasa Iuni Sapolu, a member of the S.S.I.G., told the Weekend Observer the Government’s claim of S.S.I.G. being a troublemaker, unsafe to and for the public was based on prejudice and discrimination and not on facts.
“In the end it comes down to a matter of trust. If we were discriminated against as we felt we did originally in the Government’s decision to stop us from marching and the Government had no choice but to allow S.S.I.G. to march.
“The repercussions internationally of prejudice and discrimination against S.S.I.G. is damaging for Samoa’s image.
“It’s also a deliberate breach of our freedoms, our rights under Article 13 of the Constitution.”
Unasa pointed out the Government can’t afford civil disobedience and that the “E.F.K.S. is a huge issue for the Government and by stopping S.S.I.G. from marching, more headaches to the Government”.
Another S.S.I.G. member, Tanuvasa Masina, an elderly mother who was part of the march, was thankful to the Government for allowing them to march.
“I have never participated in an Independence Day march, but this year there is an exception, and all for a good cause and that is to make known to the Government that fear we have of losing our communal lands to overseas investors.
“That is the main reason I am part of this march.
“I want to remind the Government they shouldn’t meddle with family affairs that includes customary lands.
“Those things belong to the respective families and therefor the Government should not get involved in trying to lease out our lands.”
She also expressed concerns the Government is investing so much money into the Teuila Festival than the Independence Day.
“We no longer have the usual activities we had in the past for the Independence Day; rather everything is now centered around the Teuila and I think the Government should reconsider that,” said Tanuvasa.