Tue, May 09, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Aborigine campaigners demand action from Tsai Ing-wen, not the legislature

KETAGALAN PROTEST:The Aboriginal Transitional Justice Classroom said whether to include private land in demarcation guidelines should be made by Tsai

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Controversy over Aboriginal traditional areas should be handled by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) directly instead of being delegated to the Legislative Yuan, Aboriginal rights campaigners said yesterday, reiterating demands that land demarcation guidelines be revised to include privately owned land.

“President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should show more responsibility as the convener of the Presidential Office’s Aboriginal Historical and Transitional Justice Committee to personally address this issue instead of letting it devolve into a matter for legislative discussion,” said Nabu, a Bunun member of the Aboriginal Transitional Justice Classroom, which has been camping along Ketagalan Boulevard for more than two months to protest the Council of Indigenous People demarcation guidelines released in February.

Tsai promised in her official apology to Aborigines last year to use her position as convener of the committee to “hold equal discussions with representatives from each community on the direction of national policy,” Nabu said.

“Other than democratically elected representatives, this originally was supposed to include village representatives, but what has happened instead is that discussions on the first important issue have been outsourced to the Legislative Yuan,” he said.

The current demarcation guidelines have been criticized for not including private land, thereby denying local communities’ “consultation and agreement” rights over development projects on such land, including the vast holdings of Taiwan Sugar Co.

Cross-caucus negotiations on the guidelines are set to begin today after the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee failed to reach a consensus last month.

Classroom member Tipus Chen, an Amis, said campaigners expect the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to seek to drag out the negotiations.

“As far as they are concerned, there is no rush to reach a conclusion because the current demarcation guidelines are already in force and will move forward unless the Legislative Yuan takes action,” she said.

There is a substantial division among DPP and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators over whether and how private land should be included, she said, noting that New Power Party Legislator Kawlo Iyun Pacidal supports including private land, while Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) favors the Council of Indigenous People’s version.

Kawlo is an Amis and Chin, who is part Atayal, represents “mountain Aborigines” and caucuses with the People First Party.

Documentary filmmaker Mayaw Biho, an Amis who is a member of the Classroom, said that there would be “major action” if the group is dissatisfied with the results of today’s negotiations.

During yesterday’s news conference, Classroom members confined themselves to the sidewalk behind the metal barriers erected around their tents, where they moved last week after being forced off one of the lanes of Ketagalan Avenue.

Police issued a verbal warning to remove road cones meant to create space on the lane for reporters during the news conference but did not forcibly interfere.

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