Aboriginal rights advocates yesterday announced a symbolic mgaya — the Atayal word for a “headhunt”— against the Republic of China (ROC) government on Sunday, the eve of the ROC’s centennial celebrations.
After performing a traditional song and dance, Sediq National Assembly spokesman Watan Diro, in a traditional Sediq outfit, took out a knife and cut in half a sign with the number “100” and the phrase “A Spectacular Century; Republic of China” — which is the official slogan for the ROC’s centennial celebrations.
It was a gesture of discontent toward the ROC government, Wantan said, as the ROC government, like the Japanese colonial government that preceded it, is a repressive foreign regime to Taiwan’s Aborigines who have been living on the island for thousands of years.
“We, Taiwan’s Aboriginal peoples, refuse to join the celebrations for the illegitimate ROC regime’s 100th anniversary,” said Indigenous Peoples’ Action Coalition Taiwan secretary-general Omi Wilang, an Atayal Aboriginal. “We have nothing to celebrate, as the Aborigines have only suffered under the ROC government.”
For instance, Omi said, the ROC government has always — and still tries to — store nuclear waste in traditional Aboriginal domains; a nuclear waste dump is operating on Orchid Island (蘭嶼), where more than 90 percent of the residents are Aboriginal Tao, and a new nuclear waste storage facility is planned for construction in Daren Township (達仁), Taitung County, a traditional domain of the Paiwan.
Echoing Omi, Taiwan Indigenous Peoples’ Policies Association president Oto Micyang, an Amis Aborigine, said land disputes between the central government and Aborigines that have recently surfaced are also evidence of injustices the ROC has forced upon the Aborigines.
“The Japanese took our lands by force and at the end of World War II, many tribal elders were expecting to finally get their lands back,” Oto said. “Instead of returning the lands to Aborigines, the ROC government simply took over the land for itself.”
“I don’t know how we should join the ROC celebrations and how we can teach our children to respect the ROC,” said Daya Dakasi (官大偉), an assistant professor at National Chengchi University’s Department of Ethnology, an Atayal. “The ROC has taken natural resources that belong to Aborigines, occupies our lands and collaborates with capitalists and big corporations to plan large-scale development projects without consulting our peoples.”
Daya added that despite the Aboriginal Basic Act (原住民族基本法), which grants Aborigines autonomy, land, culture and natural resource rights, “the ROC government has failed to pass relevant laws and the promises to protect our rights are still unfulfilled.”
Representatives from all Aboriginal communities will gather at the Central Arts Park in Taipei City at 4pm on Sunday to perform the mgaya ceremony, which will be followed by music and cultural performances that begin at 6pm.
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