Protest march calls on Govt. to repeal land law
Members of the Samoa Solidarity International Group held a peaceful protest march yesterday to call on Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi and his Government to repeal the Land Titles Registration Act 2008.
They also used the occasion to commemorate Black Saturday, a dark day in Samoan and New Zealand history—when New Zealand military police fired on Mau independence demonstrators in Apia on December 29, 1929—killing 11 Samoans, including the independence leader Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III.
Over a 100 people gathered early yesterday morning in Apia to show opposition to the controversial law as well as to remember those who played key roles to push for Samoa’s independence.
March organizer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, said their protest march is peaceful and they were there to also remember the work of their forefathers.
“Our forefathers fought to achieve freedom and independence from colonial rule and was led by the leader of Samoa’s non-violent Mau a Tumua ma Pule Movement, Tupua Tamasese Lealofi, who was shot by New Zealand police as he was leading a peaceful demonstration in downtown Apia.
“It was the blackest day in Samoa then and it still is today. We lost 10 people and numerous were injured on that day and born from it was Samoa’s freedom from colonial rule."
“Hence the importance of this march to repeal the Land Titles Registration Act 2008, which they claimed could alienate customary lands."
“The same customary lands they fought and died to protect will not be ours if the Land Titles Registration Act is not repealed,” Unasa said.
Yesterday’s march was the fourth one to be organised by the Samoa Solidarity International Group, and did not attract a lot of supporters like in previous protest marches.
Unasa blamed timing for the low attendance at yesterday’s protest.
“The Police granted the license from 7am to 8am and it was because the police have other obligations and yet they must escort the peaceful protest."
“I told the group that next time we will negotiate the time, we have a lot of people from Savai’i that wanted to attend, but it was too early for them."
“We also have some people from overseas who have travelled all the way to participate as they understand the cause behind the peaceful protest is all in protecting of Samoa’s customary lands,” she added.
Yesterday’s protest attracted men, women and children.
The Samoa Solidarity International Group has taken the Government to Court over the legislation.