About 200 Aborigines yesterday held a demonstration on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei to support three campaigners staging a sit-in protest against recently announced guidelines on the delineation of traditional Aboriginal territories.
The demonstrators from the Indigenous Youth Front performed traditional songs and danced for more than an hour before dispersing.
The Council of Indigenous Peoples announced the guidelines on Feb. 14, but they were opposed by Aboriginal rights groups and lawmakers, as they stipulate that private land would not be recognized as traditional Aboriginal territories.
Aboriginal folk singers and rights campaigners Nabu Husungan Istanda and Panai Kusui and documentary filmmaker Mayaw Biho started a sit-in protest in front of the Presidential Office Building on Ketagalan Boulevard on Feb. 23.
“The guidelines exclude private lands and will cause traditional territories to become fragmented,” the front said. “The council says that this is a step forward from zero to 800,000 hectares [of traditional Aboriginal territories], but we can foresee various land development cases in villages that no longer need to respect local tribes and unable to hear the land weeping.”
The front said the three campaigners have been staging a sit-in for more than 10 days, so it is time for them, mostly university students, to show their support and show the government that many young people are also concerned about the issue.
They said that the integrity of the traditional territories can help Aboriginal communities learn traditional ecological knowledge and allow them to develop the most suitable culture and lifestyles for living in the area.
A member of the front, Mo’o, who is an undergraduate student at National Taiwan University, said the exclusion of private lands will harm the integrity of traditional Aboriginal territories, and Aborigines will not have the right to express their opinions in land development cases.