Fri, Mar 22, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Puyuma protest Taitung solar plan

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Puyuma people from Taitung County’s Katatipul Community yesterday traveled to Taipei to protest a solar power installation project planned on their land, demanding that the government terminate the project unless local Aborigines consent.

Dressed in traditional costumes, nearly 20 Puyuma protested in front of the Executive Yuan compound, holding Chinese-language banners that read: “The land is my mother, not your cash dispenser” and “defend sovereignty and revoke the project.”

The county government in January last year announced bidding for the development project, which is to cover 226 hectares and estimated to be worth NT$8 billion (US$259.6 million), said Chen Cheng-tsung (陳政宗), convener of the group.

Puyuma ancestors settled in the area in the 16th century, but they were not involved in the project’s planning process, as required by Article 21 of the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law (原住民族基本法), Chen said.

The development area is in the community’s domain and partly overlaps the Jhihben Wetlands (知本溼地), community member Lu Hung-wen (呂宏文) said.

The community does not oppose solar power development, but the government should consult local Aborigines’ opinions before opening the area for development, Lu said.

They protested yesterday instead of earlier because it took community members time to understand the project and the law, Lu said.

While the county government had convened meetings to explain the project, they were mostly one-way policy promotion events, Environmental Rights Foundation chief executive Tu Yu-wen (涂又文) said, urging the central government to push local officials to improve communication with Aborigines as required by law.

Also at the protest were nuclear power proponents Huang Shih-hsiu (黃士修) and Liao Yen-peng (廖彥朋), who said that the government should not sacrifice Aboriginal rights and wetland ecology to promote its “nuclear-free homeland.”

However, community members rejected their support.

Most community members do not know the advocates of nuclear power and were baffled by their uninvited appearance, Lu said, adding that Huang and Liao should not co-opt the demands of Aborigines.

The protest is not about supporting or opposing green energy development, but about consulting Aborigines’ opinions before exploiting their land, Indigenous Youth Front member Savungaz Valincinan said.

The Executive Yuan received the Puyuma appeal and said it would relay the information to the agency in charge.

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