A dozen residents from the Paiwan Ljavek community in Kaohsiung yesterday protested outside the Control Yuan against evictions ordered by the government that they said would tear apart their Aboriginal community and undermine the preservation of their culture.
The residents, many dressed in traditional Paiwan outfits, held a banner that read: “Please help save our home” in front of the Control Yuan in Taipei, demanding that government officials stop the eviction project.
The Kaohsiung City Government on Jan. 22 informed residents that they must move out of their home in the Ljavek area on Jhonghuawu Road (中華五路) by March 20 because the buildings are illegal and threatened to cancel compensations if they refused to move, said Galaigai Balasasu, a Paiwan whose family has lived in the area for four generations.
“We live in fear every day as the government keeps sending us notices. In about 10 days, our house is to be torn down. What are we going to do then? We have more than 10 families that have lived there for generations. I want my home and I will fight to protect it,” she said.
Aboriginal residents would each receive a relocation payment of about NT$100,000, but Han residents would not receive any compensation, said Shih Dao (石道), representing the Han residents.
“We are here protesting today because the Kaohsiung City Government has said it is only following orders from the Control Yuan,” he said.
The Ljavek represent a unique part of Kaohsiung’s history and are of great value to the city, Kaohsiung City Councilor Chen Li-na (陳麗娜) said.
“Many Aboriginal people moved from their home in the mountains to the area in the 1950s for work. At the time, the government had no plans for the land,” she said.
They have built their homes and developed their own culture there despite being economically disadvantaged and it is the nation’s only Aboriginal settlement in an urban area, she said.
Instead of demolishing the community, the government should allow residents to stay and turn it into a special area for the preservation of Aboriginal culture, she added.
According to a self-help group for the Ljavek, the city government is planning to build a park commemorating Formosa Plastics Group’s late founder Wang Yung-ching (王永慶) in the Ljavek area, with demolition work scheduled to begin on March 21.
The relocation plan would break up the tribe into two locations, Association for Taiwan Indigenous People’s Policies board member Savungaz Valincinau said, adding that three families with older members who cannot climb stairs would live in an apartment complex with elevators in Siaogang District (小港) and the rest would live in a former Taiwan Power Co dormitory in Fongshan District (鳳山).
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