21 Mar Afega Death Threats and Tension due to Anonymous Facebook Page
20 March, 2018. Samoa – Concerns are being raised about the possible danger of tensions erupting in Afega as the result of a popular anonymous Facebook page.
Earlier this month, the page writers attacked prominent businessman Ututaaloga Charlie Ulia and his family with multiple allegations. Page writers also threatened Ututaaloga with violence.
The page posted a screenshot of a conversation that they claimed was between them and Ututaaloga. In the conversation, a Facebook profile named ‘Ulia Ulia’ and using a photo of Ututaaloga, makes derogatory comments about key matai and families in Afega village.
However, the profile named ‘Ulia Ulia’ appeared to have been created that day and then deleted not long afterwards. A search shows that Ututaaloga does not have a Facebook account.
A family member told Samoa Planet that the profile was not made by Ututaaloga and he had no knowledge of the damaging post, “He did not write that, nor anyone in the family.”
The reaction from page followers was swift with many outraged people blasting Ututaaloga and making threats of violence against him and his family in retaliation. These threats include burning his home, shooting him and beating his children.
Followers called for the page to post pictures of his family so they could be targeted.
One woman living in Australia, Tasha Fagasoaia-Jennings, called for action against Ututaaloga, “All sons of Afega need to rise up and see you actions.”
Marie Laumea commented from the USA, that she would call her cousin in Afega to act, “sei ou call aku lava ia gai ou cuz ga i Afega a vaai ia oe soa i se kaavale…”
A profile using the name Tavita Mila said, “Aga o le matou nuu ua leva ona saisai ae kao i le umu…”
A Samoan man living in the USA, Jack Seiuli, commented on the post with an angry reminder that Ututaaloga and his family are ‘not bullet-proof’.
Several Afega residents who did not wish to be named, told Samoa Planet that the Facebook posts are stirring up conflict.
One man said, “This is causing many problems between the youths. Especially between some families. The youths are showing their elders the words they think were said by Ututaaloga.”
Another resident said, “My mother is really sad (faanoanoa). She said it’s all lies and she doesn’t know why this page is trying to trick people.”
On Facebook, a woman named Ruseta Taaloga questioned the authenticity of the post and appealed for it to be taken down.
“Has anyone checked the Ulia Ulia page? This is not a real page and was only created a day after the original post…Faamolemole lava, I don’t believe this post should be put on here as truth of something that Ututaaloga said…how can you not verify first that this Ulia Ulia page is actually Ututaaloga?”
“This post has generated so many unnecessary death threats which may lead to violence within Afega, just because you are claiming that this is what Ututaaloga said and so many people are taking this at face value without checking everything. You have a strong influence on a lot of people, so I urge you to please lead in a peaceful manner and take this post down as it will bring nothing but havoc, especially to the people of Afega.”
Taaloga said that she had made a similar appeal the day before but the page administrators had deleted it. “I am very saddened to see my comment has been deleted.”
Insisting she is not a relative of the people being attacked, Taaloga said, “I am conscious of what impacts this post will have. It will be a sad day if violence broke out because of something an anonymous unverified person wrote online.”
The attack on Ututaaloga came in the same week as their ready mix concrete supply company ‘Ulia Construction’ prepared to announce they had achieved stringent NZ certification – a historic first for any ready mix supplier in Samoa. To qualify as a Certified supplier of Readymix Concrete, numerous laboratory tests were conducted on Ulia Construction’s concrete samples every two months for the last 12 months to ensure that the supply was consistent over the time period.
The anonymous Facebook page which has a wide following amongst Samoans at home and abroad, specialises in writing self-proclaimed ‘exposure’ pieces about people in Government and in the business community – but provide little to no evidence to support their claims. Instead they appear to rely on the community to submit their grievances and allegations against individuals, government ministries and businesses.
The unknown writers claim they are a spirit which is ‘all-seeing’ and ‘all-knowing’, and that they work with God to bring judgement and justice to the ‘corrupt’ and wicked.
In one post the page writers said, “There’d being quite a few people who responded to some of [our] posts regarding corruption, and asked to not expose corruption and extra marital affairs of the corrupt, but they told [us] to do nothing and leave it up to God’s judgment instead. But this is what [we] has to say to these people, You have faith without works, and [we] works with faith.”
The page writers also claim they will never be identified as they are ‘spirits’.