Sun, Feb 01, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Siraya people to file suit to claim Aboriginal status

‘HISTORICAL JUSTICE’:Siraya Cultural Association head Wan Cheng-hsiung said Aboriginal culture has been repressed and destroyed by foreign regimes

By Lin Meng-ting  /  Staff reporter

Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai, right, listens as a man speaks at a public forum organized by the Siraya people, who are preparing to file an administrative suit with the High Administrative Court regarding their official indigenous status, in Greater Tainan yesterday.

Photo: Lin Meng-ting, Taipei Times

The Siraya people are to file an administrative suit with the High Administrative Court regarding their official indigenous status, and will be accompanied by Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德).

The Greater Tainan City Government has been helping the group “right their name” and regain their indigenous status, holding a forum on the recognition of the group and an information meeting about the administrative lawsuit at the Tainan Siraya Cultural Hall yesterday, in which the Siraya people announced a recognition declaration and academics made speeches.

Lai said the Siraya people are “Taiwanese plains Aborigines,” who had been recognized by the former Tainan County Government as a “county-recognized indigenous group,” and have continued to be acknowledged by the special municipality as a “city-recognized indigenous group” after the merger of Tainan County and Tainan City.

However, the Siraya people have not been officially recognized on a national level, Lai said.

“People without human rights are as if they have no souls,” Siraya Cultural Association head Wan Cheng-hsiung (萬正雄) said.

The Siraya people have been living on this land for more than 400 years, but the Sirayan culture has been repressed and destroyed by a series of foreign regimes, Wan said, adding that the Siraya people were hoping to achieve “historical justice” and secure their human rights through the recognition movement.

Tainan Ethnic Affairs Commission (EAC) director Wang Chi-min (汪志敏) said the recognition of a person’s identity is a natural right that they cannot be deprived of.

By making great efforts and progress on cultural restoration, including the preservation of the group’s music and traditional rituals, and the reconstruction of tribes, the Siraya people have rebuilt their self-identity, Wang said.

However, petitioning attempts in recent years to urge the government to have the Siraya people officially listed as one of the nation’s recognized Aboriginal groups have been repeatedly rejected by the Executive Yuan, EAC Preparation Committee of the Siraya People Affairs executive secretary Wan Shu-chuan (萬淑娟) said.

Appeals lodged against the decisions have also been turned down, she added.

The recognition movement has now entered the judicial stage and the Siraya people plan to arrive in Taipei on Wednesday to file an administrative lawsuit with the High Administrative Court.

Saying that he would be accompanying the group to Taipei, Lai expressed his hope that the case could be resolved during his term, adding that bringing the case to the Constitutional Court, if needed, is an option.

Additional reporting by CNA

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