Wed, Jun 19, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Aboriginal justice must be part of nation’s DNA: Tsai

By Yang Chun-hui and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The government aims to embed historical and transitional justice for the nation’s Aborigines into the “DNA of democratic life in Taiwan,” President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday.

She made the remark at the 10th meeting of the Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee in Taipei.

Starting from “nothing,” her administration over the past three years has established the committee as a vehicle for dialogue and gradually opened discussions about “difficult topics,” she said.

However, despite its efforts, the government has yet to change the attitude of everyone in society, Tsai said.

Some citizens still do not understand what land rights Aborigines have or why they deserve certain benefits with regard to government policies on language, culture and education, she added.

The first attitude that had to be changed three years ago was the idea that past injustices were to be taken for granted, Tsai said.

Three years later, the government must “work even harder,” because certain misunderstandings and biases have not been completely eliminated, she said.

As part of the amendments made to the Education Act for Indigenous Peoples (原住民族教育法) last month, the government would expand the audience for Aboriginal education to include all citizens to encourage mutual understanding and respect between people from different ethnicities, she said.

It is the committee’s duty to uncover historical truths, restore the historical perspectives of Aboriginal groups and start meaningful discussion, Tsai said.

Over the past two years, under the leadership of its convener, Bavaragh Dagalomai, the subcommittee on reconciliation has hosted 120 seminars and expanded the possibility of inter-ethnic communication and understanding through Facebook, she said.

To speak up about the repressions that people endured in the past is to carry out historical and transitional justice, Tsai said.

It is also an expression of justice to find the names that were “lost,” she said, referring to “assimilation policies” that were adopted by past governments.

Whether it be individuals or places, there are laws and policies in place to help Aborigines reclaim their traditional names, she said.

The government seeks to initiate more dialogue and help the public better understand Aboriginal culture, Tsai added.

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