Thu, May 06, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Pingpu activists ask UN assistance in Aboriginal claim

LATEST MOVE Dealing with indigenous issues should not be limited by national boundaries, Pingpu rights group director Jason Pan said

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Pingpu Aboriginal activists have filed a request to the UN, asking it to launch an investigation into the Taiwanese government's refusal to grant them official Aboriginal status.

“To [this] date, the government and the Council of Indigenous Peoples [CIP] still deny the Pingpu people of their history and refuse to register their ethnic group status, saying that they are not indigenous peoples,” said a letter in English addressed to the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, James Anaya.

The letter was written by Jason Pan (潘紀揚), director of the Taiwan Association for Rights Advancements for Pingpu Plains Aborigines, on behalf of a number of Pingpu rights groups.

The Pingpu used to live in the plains areas of Taiwan.

They were recognized as Aborigines until the 1950s, when they failed to register their ethnic status with local governments and have been struggling to regain the status in recent decades.

Pingpu activists have taken to the streets several times and filed a lawsuit against the government last month. The petition to the UN is the latest move.

In the letter, Pan cited historical documents from the Dutch, Portuguese and Japanese to show that the Pingpu tribe has been in existence since at least the 17th century.

He also gave detailed accounts of actions that the Pingpu have taken to regain their Aboriginal status as well the government's responses.

“The letter was sent on April 16, and received a confirmation of reception from Anaya on April 28,” Pan told a press conference at the legislature yesterday. “There may be political issues since Taiwan is not a member of the UN, but indigenous issues should not be limited by national boundaries.”

Siraya Culture Association Chairwoman Uma Talavan voiced support for Pan's action.

“Every time when we make a move, that's another chance for our voice to be heard,” Talavan said.

Also see:Ministry’s U-turn incites Aboriginal legislators’ ire

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