Permit granted for protest march
The green light has been given for the Samoa Solidarity International (S.S.I.) protest march scheduled this Saturday.
Senior Lawyer and member of the S.S.I., Unasa Iuni Sapolu, confirmed to the Sunday Samoan that the Ministry of Police has granted the permit.
The protest march is set to begin from Vaisigano to Mulinu’u, aiming to ensure customary lands are protected under existing laws.
The approval of the permit was a result of three letters and a personal visit by Unasa to the Police Station.
“Yes we've been granted permit with conditions relating to public safety, hydration especially if a sunny day,” she said.
“After three letters and a personal visit, we are grateful that the march will proceed with the help and support from the police.”
Efforts to get confirmation from the Police were unsuccessful yesterday.
During his press conference with the media this week, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said the decision on the permit for the march was entirely up to the Commissioner.
“That is between them and the Commissioner of Police Services,” he said. “The Commissioner approached me and I told him the same thing, I don’t have any authority over his professional judgement.
“If anything happens, it’s the Police who will see it through that this is done in a peaceful manner. This is also for their protection.
“There are also people who are against this march; most especially there has been negative comment on social media on the issue.
“So it is duty of the Police Officers to protect those who are creating issues against the government and also the protection of those who are against the march.
“For any protest in any country, the duty of the Police is to maintain peace,” explained the Prime Minister, whose portfolio oversees the Ministry of Police.
“This is why this matter is not taken lightly by the Commissioner of Police.”
He gave an example.
“There was a propose protest back in 1999 due to the separation of the Post Office and Telecommunications, with the idea to commercialize the telecommunications.
“At the time Leafa (Vitale) was Minister. I told Leafa that I will remove him from E.P.C. so he can focus on separating the two entities as there was much needed commercial development for Telecommunications, and this led to problem (without my knowledge) that led to the death of a Minister (the Late Luagalau Levaula Kamu.)
“I waited and nothing was done, so I put Leafa in charge of the Ministry of Women.”
The Prime Minister said another Minister was appointed to see through the separation and the Minister reported back to him that even government officials were part of the proposed march.
“The following day, I reshuffled the government agencies.”
Tuialepa then moved to see through the separation of the two entities.
“At the time the Bill was tabled in Parliament, the protest was planned by government employees against the government’s policy reform.”
Tuilaepa said the Commissioner at the time stopped the protest because he did not want violence from this march.
“I told him, I wanted to see who is part of the March, against a very important government reform,” explained the Prime Minister.