Prime Minister of Samoa pays tribute to Bahá’í community on 60th anniversary

APIA, Samoa — The Prime Minister of Samoa has expressed his gratitude to the country’s Bahá’í community for its long service to the development of Samoan society.

The Honorable Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi made his remarks on 14 January 2014 during celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Bahá’í Faith in the Pacific island nation.

“I take this opportunity to express the appreciation of the government for the important contribution that you make to the spiritual life of our country,” he said.

The Prime Minister noted that the work of the Bahá’í community, along with all churches in Samoa, is paramount in bringing out the best in people.

In a special observance at the Samoa Tradition Resort, the Prime Minister also said the Samoan Government strives to protect the right of all to worship.

“We are also very conscious of abuses of human rights and freedom that persists in many countries around the world,” he said. “As part of Samoa’s engagement internationally through its membership with the UN, Samoa endeavors to support efforts to protect the rights of people in various countries including Iran where the Bahá’í Faith struggles through persecution.”

The Bahá’í Faith was first established in Samoa in 1954 with the arrival there of a Swiss-Australian woman, Lilian Wyss. The Samoan Head of State from 1962-2007, His Highness Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II, became the first reigning sovereign to accept the Bahá’í Faith. He dedicated the Bahá’í House of Worship in Tiapapata in 1984. A special commemorative service was held there on 12 January for Bahá’ís and their friends to celebrate, reflect and review milestones in their community’s development.

A member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Samoa, Peseta Demetrius Fogaseuga Taofiga, said the events offered an occasion to reflect on the challenges and accomplishments of the past six decades.

“It is also an opportunity to consult on ways and means to build better communities, and to continue serving Samoa and its people,” he said.