Sun, Oct 27, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Aboriginals unite against lack of progress on self-rule

CNA , TAIPEI

Thousands of Aboriginal protesters gather in front of the Presidential Office to demand that the government return their ``traditional territory,'' yesterday.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

Thousands of Aboriginal citizens from around the island demonstrated in front of the Presidential Office yesterday to push for a return of their "traditional territory."

The mass rally followed an overnight sit-in on the plaza in downtown Taipei by about 100 Aboriginal youths under the leadership of Aboriginal legislators from both the ruling and opposition parties that began at 10pm Friday.

The activity was organized to coincide with Taiwan's Retrocession Day on Oct. 25 which celebrates Taiwan's return to the Chinese fold in 1945 after 50 years of Japanese colonial rule. Aboriginal rights activists said Taiwan originally belonged to the island's indigenous people, not the immigrants from the Chinese mainland. They organized Friday's sit-in and Saturday's mass demonstration to highlight their call for a return of their "traditional territory" or self-governance of Aboriginal tribes.

Legislators May Chin (高金素梅), Walis Pelin (瓦歷斯貝林), Yang Jen-fu (楊仁福) and Tsay Chung-han (蔡中涵) were among the prominent Aboriginal figures who initiated the Oct. 25-26 demonstration.

The demonstrators urged President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to honor his campaign promise to allow for Aboriginal self-governance. In addition, they voiced strong opposition to the plan to make the Chilanshan area in the northeastern county of Ilan, which is the traditional homeland of the Atayal Aboriginal group, into a national park.

The demonstrators also deman-ded that the nuclear waste stored on the offshore Orchid Island, home to the Tao Aboriginal people, be moved off the island as soon as possible.

Chen Chien-nien (陳建年), chairman of the Cabinet-level Council of Aboriginal Affairs, showed up at the demonstration site to express his concern for their appeal.

Chen, himself an Aboriginal citizen, said aboriginal self-governance is a complicated issue which involves the revising of many statutes.

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