Sat, May 06, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Resettled Truku blast plans for hotels in Taroko park


Truku (太魯閣) Aborigines from Hualien County yesterday condemned a decision by Taroko National Park's management office to allow hotels and restaurants into the park after forcing the resettlement of Aborigines from the area years before.

The Truku Self-Government Promotion Commission said that the park's management office had started the bidding process for hotels, restaurants and other companies almost two years ago.

The office is violating the original goal of the national park altogether, said Teyra Yudaw, a Truku and the chairman of the commission.

The park was meant to preserve and protect the environment, but now businesses are being allowed into the area, he said.

"They kicked us out, and their excuse was that we would destroy the environment in the area," Yudaw said.

"But that is not the Truku spirit. The land is our blood and the mountain is our life. We will protect it with our lives," he said.

When the Ministry of the Interior decided to establish Taroko National Park in 1986 to preserve the natural scenery and wildlife in the area, the original residents of the area, the Truku people, were resettled on surrounding land.

The commission said yesterday that according to the Aboriginal Basic Act (原住民族基本法) that was passed last year, state-run and private companies are prohibited from using or developing land belonging to Aborigines without prior consultation, agreement or participation with them.

The park management office had not spoken to the Truku people at all, said Jiru Haruq, a Truku representative.

"We did not participate in the decision to auction off the land in the park. We want the interior ministry to allow Truku people to participate in the management of Taroko National Park," Haruq said.

Lynn Lin (林子凌), the secretary-general of the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, an environmental protection group, said that the park management office was bound by law to perform an environmental evaluation before allowing hotels to be built in the area, but no such evaluation had been made.

"The government believes it is developing the area by making it fit for tourism, and that this would benefit the area economically. However, this warped interpretation will only cause environmental damage and the disappearance of aboriginal culture," she said.

Before the national park was established, monkeys and flying squirrels were often seen, but not anymore, Yudaw added.

Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) yesterday called for the bidding process to be suspended until further evaluations have been made.

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