TAIWAN: Aboriginal activists urge ROC government to right wrongs of the past

  • Publication Date:02/29/2012
  • Source: Taiwan Today
  • By  June Tsai

Aboriginal activists sent up smoke signals Feb. 28 in a symbolic action demanding that the government make amends for wrongful policies against indigenous peoples and create a new constitution that includes all who live in Taiwan.

“Ceremonies memorializing the February 28 Incident are used by Han Chinese members of society to monitor ROC government efforts toward transitional justice, but nothing has been done to redress the 300-year-long persecution of aborigines,” said a spokesman for the Smoke Signals League, organizer of the event.

The February 28 Incident refers to a local uprising in 1947 against rampant corruption, expropriation of property, inflation and commodity shortages in which government troops killed thousands of people.

The league presented three demands: correct wrongful policies concerning aboriginal land rights, speed up legislation to meet the requirements of the 2005 Indigenous Peoples Basic Act, and establish a new constitution taking the rights of the indigenous Taiwanese into account.

The annual relay of smoke signals began at 10 a.m. in eastern Taiwan’s Taitung County and was taken up by 46 aboriginal communities throughout the island.

The event was first held in 2008 in response to a police ban on a traditional hunting ceremony in the Puyuma village of Katatipul, Taitung. The movement has since expanded to encompass land rights and the sustainability of the natural environment.

Participating groups this year include Paiwan tribespeople supporting the protection of Pingtung County’s Alangyi Ancient Trail from a highway development and Amis defending their traditional fishing grounds in Taitung and Hualien against improperly planned resorts and tourism facilities.

In response, the Council of Indigenous Peoples said the government will heed the call of tribal peoples for self rule and do its best to help resolve the issue of systematic encroachment of their traditional domains. (THN)

Source: Taiwan Today

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