Tue, Nov 28, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Activists support plains Aborigine in shooting case

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Human rights activists and plains Aboriginal rights groups have issued a last-ditch appeal for Pan Jen-yung (潘仁庸), a Siraya tribesman who was convicted of shooting endangered Formosan muntjac -- a type of deer also known as Reeve's muntjac -- and for illegal possession of firearms.

Pan begins his 22-month sentence today. He was also ordered to pay NT$70,000.

Pan's defense, supported by the Legal Aid Foundation, hinged upon his Siraya ancestry.

According to a provision in the Statute Governing Control Over Guns, Ammunition, Knives and Weapons (槍砲彈藥刀械管制條例), Aborigines who use home-made weapons to hunt for a living are only liable for a fine of up to NT$20,000.

However, the court ruled that since the Siraya are not one of the 12 Aboriginal tribes recognized by the government, the provision did not apply in his case.

The court also ruled that since Pan had other means of livelihood at the time and did not manufacture the gun, the provision would not be applicable in any case.

Asito Adawai Pan, the Tai-wanese Executive Council Mem-ber of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), expressed his outrage that the Siraya are not afforded the same protection under the law as other tribes recognized by the government. Pan is a member of the Pazeh tribe, another plains Aborigine tribe that does not enjoy legal recognition.

"We are the excluded among the excluded," he said.

"They say that the plains tribes are too assimilated to be considered Aborigines," he said, "but my indigenous status is recognized by the AIPP and I represent Taiwan internationally as an indigenous citizen."

Part of Pan's sentence was handed down for his killing of three protected Formosan muntjac, which is a crime for both Aborigine and non-Aborigine as it is considered an endangered animal.

However, Robin Winkler of Wild at Heart, an environmental advocacy group, said: "The reason why the muntjac is endangered is not the indigenous people's traditional way of life. It is clearly habitat destruction."

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