BANISHED SAMOA FAMILY QUESTIONS VILLAGE

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HOSTILITY
Rock-throwing, damaged property followed dispute

By Charlina Tone APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Oct. 56, 2010) - A family of six from Tanugamanono in Samoa has fled their home after a violent encounter with some villagers last Friday.

[PIR editor’s note: Tanugamanono is a village near Apia on the island of Upolu.]

A longstanding land dispute fueled the tension.

On Friday, some village men broke into the family home and damaged their property, Losi Faumuina Tutuila said.

The member of the banished family said relations with the village have been bad since a Land and Titles court judgment ruled against them in August.

The village council then banished them. They were given 30 days to leave.

"Ever since then people have been throwing stones at our house at night time, but when we come out to check, they run off," she said.

Sisters Afu and Losi Faumuina said they had to fight away village men who entered their home and destroyed their property.

A conch shell was blown on Saturday morning as a final warning for the family to leave.

"Because we are humble people that do not tolerate violence we left quietly. But what has been done to our family is unfair and unjust," said Losi.

On Friday, the fight started when Losi’s husband came out to check who had thrown the stones. He saw a group of drunken men and then asked them about it.

The men were unhappy about how Losi’s husband approached them. A punch was thrown and things got worse when village men entered the home.

Losi said she fought with three other ladies while her husband tried to fend off four village men who ganged up on him.

"They then started damaging our cars, our furniture and our belongings," said Losi.

"It was against the law for them to trespass into our property and do this. We feel disgusted by how the village people have treated us.

This is complete disregard of the fa’asamoa that is founded on peace and harmony."

Afu Faumuina said they have left the village and moved to Vaitele to keep the peace.

"We do not want to fight with our hands because that is what fools do," she said.

Afu said she has a lot of respect for the Samoan culture but the village council of Tanugamanono has gone too far.

"What hurts our family is that the people who started the trouble that night are still roaming the village. Why weren’t they ordered to leave?

"There are others in Tanugamanono who have been convicted and charged with worse offences yet they were not banished. It forces us to ask the question of why us?"

Afu said Tanugamanono’s pulenu’u (village mayor), Tu’uamali’i Peni should be stripped of the title because he is not doing his job of keeping the peace.

Since they left, Afu said she was told some women from the village have taken her pot[ted] plants.

"It is a shame that these women have had to do this. It is clear to me that they have always been jealous of me and the developments in my family."

The dispute started over a plot of customary land where a church hall for the EFKS church was being constructed. Tu’uamali’i Peni could not be contacted for a comment yesterday.

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