Death threats a crying shame. Let’s think about peace, forgiveness and humility instead

The front-page story titled “Police investigate death threats aimed at lawyer” published on the front page of the Samoa Observer yesterday is sad. It is a crying shame that these threats are being made in this country.

We agree that we share a nation where people offer different views and opinions about issues from time to time. 

But then we’d like to think that this is part of a healthy democracy where freedom of expression, association and opinions are encouraged. We’d like to think we live in a democracy where no one should exist in fear in their own country, that includes fear as a result of threats for whatever reason.

But this is not what is happening. According to the story in question, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, the lawyer for two of the men charged for allegedly conspiring to assassinate the Prime Minister, confirmed that her family has received death threats.

And while the Police are investigating the threats, Unasa, who is also the leader of the Samoa First Political Party, told the Samoa Observer that she is considering withdrawing from the case.

“The threats are directed at me, my children and my family,” she said.

She did not say whom the threats came from. But in a post on her Facebook page, she said the threats were sent through her son, Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu’s Facebook page.

“As there are threats to kill me and my family; (I’m) thinking withdrawal; Samoa [is] becoming dangerous,” she said.

“[The] Police [have been] contacted as it’s the first time in my at least 30 plus years as lawyer in New Zealand and Samoa, my life and my family's lives been threatened. We are taking all security precautions and police alerted.”

At the time the story was published, the Acting Police Commissioner, Papali'i Monalisa Keti, had not responded to questions from the Samoa Observer about what the Police are doing.

From where we stand, we hope the Police take the threat on this family’s lives very seriously. They need to get on to it quickly and find these culprits.

Let me tell you something here, in our line of work in the media, we know a thing or two about getting death threats. And let me tell you it’s not a pleasant feeling, it’s terrifying, especially when you do not know who is making those threats. It means you become paranoid about everything and anything – including the people you see and meet.

Which is why we are saying that what is happening in Samoa today is extremely sad. Ladies and gentlemen, what we are seeing is something different, it’s a threat on its own that we should all be concerned about.

We say this knowing that as long as these attitudes exist, no one is safe. You and I could be next, who knows?

The threat on Unasa and her family couldn’t have come at a worse time. It comes at a time when the Police have arrested and charged three men in relation to an alleged plot to assassinate the Prime Minister. This is crazy, mind-blowing stuff.

What with political assassination plots, death threats, young people becoming gangsters and so many other criminal elements rising, what is going on in paradise?

Clearly we all need to wake up. As Samoans, we know we are a lot better than what we are seeing. What we need in this country today are cool heads, rational thinking and reasonable minds.

In this part of the world, there is always a way to do things. There is a way to settle differences and disputes. It is not done through violence, threats on people’s lives, plots to assassinate high profile figures and whatever other method some people have come up with.

Today let us think about peace and joy.  Let us think about dialogue, humility, love, forgiveness and mutual respect. This is how safety is guaranteed and differences are resolved in this place we call home. That is who we are as Samoans.

That said, we accept that this is a very volatile time in this country. And with these sad developments emerging, we need to rise up as a people and stand united against it. We all have a part to play. And it’s not too late to change whatever the devil is intending to harm our country.

Have a peaceful Thursday Samoa, God bless!

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