Wed, Jan 07, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Aboriginal protesters call for minister’s resignation

EGGS In front of the CIP office in Taipei, protesters bused in from Pingtung, Taitung and Nantou demanded Chang Jen-hsiang discuss the accusations leveled against her

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Over 300 protesters from the Aboriginal community yesterday threw eggs at the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) building yesterday, demanding the resignation of CIP Minister Chang Jen-hsiang (章仁香) for “betraying her own people” by disregarding tribespeople’s land and hunting rights.

The council denied the accusations and stressed it had always striven to preserve the rights of the community.

According to the Alliance to Safeguard the Aboriginal Basic Law, the council failed to protect two Aboriginal villages in Pingtung and Taitung County when Chang allegedly agreed to let the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) dump hazardous nuclear waste in the community.

In a statement, the CIP said the accusation was completely false because no AEC officials had visited Chang since she took up the position in May.

The alliance also asked the council to respect the Puyuma tribe’s traditional annual hunt by removing the requirement that they first obtain permission from the Forestry Bureau.

One Puyuma woman surnamed Chung said the annual hunt was an integral part of the tribe’s culture and did not understand why the tribe needed to seek the Forestry Bureau’s approval for the event that has been going on for over 100 years.

The CIP statement said that the Forestry Bureau was in charge of wildlife protection and therefore all hunting activity had to be cleared by the bureau.

Standing in the pouring rain in front of the CIP office in Taipei, protesters bused in from Pingtung, Taitung and Nantou demanded Chang face the crowd and give an explanation to the accusations leveled against her.

The angry protesters threw eggs at the building when Chang refused to meet them. The group later protested in front the Legislative Yuan, Executive Yuan and the Presidential Office.

About 100 protesters scaled a fence in an attempt to enter the Cabinet headquarters, clashing with more police.

Independent Legislator Kao Chin Su-mei (高金素梅), a member of the Atayal tribe, held a press conference at the same time as the protest echoing the demonstrators’ demands to remove Chang from office.

“The political party will continue to trample on our rights if we don’t make our voices heard. When that happens, we will not have a future,” she said, adding she would mobilize more street protesters if the Executive Yuan failed to name another CIP minister by Feb. 1.

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