President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should make concrete promises to pass Aboriginal transitional justice legislation and protect hunting and other rights, Aboriginal activists said yesterday, as hundreds of protesters descended on Taipei, days prior to a widely anticipated official apology to Aborigines tomorrow.
Tsai has promised to issue an official apology to Aborigines for historic injustices on the nation’s Aboriginal Day.
Details of a planned Aboriginal transitional justice commission overseen by the Presidential Office are also to be announced, with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) earlier this month promising to pass legislation to implement the Aboriginal Basic Act (原住民族基本法), including an Aboriginal self-rule act, language development act, land and sea rights act and recognition for Pingpu (平埔) Aborigines.
Photo provided by The Self Help Association Demanding the Restoration of Aboriginal hunting rights
The party’s legislative caucus has blocked efforts by Aboriginal legislators to include Aborigines in transitional justice legislation, instead focusing on Martial Law era abuses.
More than 70 activists from the Aboriginal Transitional Justice Alliance protested outside the Legislative Yuan for several hours yesterday morning before marching to Ketagalan Boulevard shortly after noon to camp out within sight of the Presidential Office Building, calling for education, hunting and land rights, while singing a victory chant to the tune of a Christian hymn.
“We demand that President Tsai not just make empty promises,” said alliance president Kumu Hacyo, an independent Tainan city councilor who caucuses with the DPP.
Hacyo called on Tsai to promise passage of an Aboriginal transitional justice act, outline a concrete timetable for passage of other legislation and recognize indigenous sovereignty by establishing a communication platform between national government and Aboriginal communities.
Hacyo also called for the establishment of a parallel Aboriginal transitional justice commission under the Executive Yuan — mirroring the transitional justice commission targeting Martial Law era abuses — adding that a commission established under the Presidential Office would be largely symbolic without real authority to force cooperation from government agencies.
Hundreds of protesters, mainly from Hualien County’s Taroko community, marched from the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to Ketagalan Boulevard, waving mock hunting rifles and shouting for revisions to the National Park Act (國家公園法) to recognize traditional hunting rights.
“Everything that flies, crawls or swims is protected except flying squirrels and wild boars, which completely ignores ecological balance and our hunting rights,” Sediq community member Logim said, calling for traditional territories to be removed from the jurisdiction of national parks.
Legal Aid Foundation Taitung Branch executive secretary Jewel Chen (陳采邑) called for the passage of an Aboriginal hunting act to clarify Aboriginal rights, adding that unrealistic hunting restrictions and vague hunting rifle rules have led to the conviction of more than 355 Aborigines since the passage of the Aboriginal Basic Act (原住民族基本法), which guarantees traditional hunting rights.
“Current laws are in opposition to Aborigines’ hunting lifestyle, requiring complicated applications and restricting hunting to specific rituals. Any other hunting, even hunting purely for self-use with no profit or sales involved, is subject to a minimum six-month sentence under the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保護法),” she said, adding that judges typically directly sentence hunting violations without holding a court hearing, denying the accused the right to invoke the Aboriginal Basic Act.
“The definition of the ‘self-made hunting rifle’ which Aborigines are required to use is also extremely vague, which creates a situation in which every judge has their own definition,” she said. “The law also does not have any specific rules for bullets, leading to convictions even if the gun used is legal — as if Aborigines are supposed to throw their guns at animals.”
“The government treats Aboriginal hunting rights like a welfare benefit,” said Association for Taiwan Indigenous People’s Policy president Yapasuyongu Akuyana, who is a member of the Tsou community, at a separate conference on Aboriginal transitional justice at the Legislative Yuan.
He said that implementation of the Aboriginal Basic Act had been hobbled by its confinement within the constitutional structure of the Republic of China, leading to restrictive interpretations of the act’s right guarantees even when enabling legislation for hunting and other rights was passed.
“As long as we do not consider indigenous sovereignty, any talk of implementing the basic law is a groundless fantasy,” he said, adding that implementing Aboriginal transitional justice was crucial to establishing such sovereignty.
National Dong Hwa University Department of Ethnic Relations and Culture professor Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒) said an apology without restoration of indigenous sovereign rights would amount to a “political show.”
“The DPP’s objective is to further the establishment of a Taiwanese national identity comprised of different ethnic groups, but while that is important, if the policy stops there, Aborigines will still be left in a position of being dominated,” he said.
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations