Sun, Aug 28, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Council of Aboriginal Affairs’ plans for delineating lands a step back: advocate

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff Reporter

The Council of Aboriginal Affairs’ plans for delineating traditional Aboriginal lands represent a step back from the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act (原住民族基本法), an Aboriginal rights campaigner said yesterday, calling for the delineation authority to be returned to individual Aboriginal communities.

“While new delineation regulations are based on the definition of traditional areas included in the Basic Act, when you look at how they intend to implement it, you see a complete contradiction,” said Indigenous Peoples’ Action Coalition of Taiwan secretary-general Omi Wilang, an Atayal Aborigine, who, with other campaigners, held a news conference opposing regulations earlier this week at the Legislative Yuan.

The council published draft delineation regulations early this month, with plans to officially delineate traditional lands by November.

While the Basic Act grants Aboriginal communities rights over resources within “traditional lands” comprised of “reserved lands” and new “traditional areas,” implementation has been delayed for more than 10 years because of the failure of the Legislative Yuan or the ministries to define the scope of “traditional areas.”

Newly announced draft regulations call for an executive committee of government officials to investigate and delineate traditional areas, with final lines subject to approval by Aboriginal communities and several governmental bodies.

“Allowing the government to make the delineation would amount to returning to the concept of ‘reserved lands’ with identical application procedures,” Omi said, calling for Aboriginal communities to be granted the authority to delineate their own traditional areas, with overlapping claims to be settled through negotiations between Aboriginal communities.

“The draft regulations might be a different ‘broth,’ but it is the same old medicine — a temporary settlement which is completely contrary to any idea of Aboriginal sovereignty,” he said, adding that “reserved lands” were still largely based on 240,000 hectares of land set aside by the Japanese colonial government after it annexed about 1.64 million hectares of traditional Aboriginal lands along the nation’s central mountain range.

The council said that it will take the objections into consideration before publishing final regulations, adding that any delineation would primarily serve as a parameter for discussions centered around the viewpoints of individual villages.

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