The First Nations Party, a political party that promotes Aboriginal rights by participating in elections, was officially created yesterday, hoping to separate Aboriginal issues from the confrontations between the pan-green and pan-blue political camps.
“With the founding of the First Nations Party, we hope to create a political organization through which Aborigines can make changes to the law and the system,” Shih Ching-lung (石慶龍), a member of the Thao tribe who was elected party chairman, told a news conference to announce the party’s founding.
“We hope that it will become a platform that can make authentic changes within the system,” he added.
Although there are Aboriginal lawmakers in the legislature, they often cannot speak frankly for the interests of Aborigines because of their affiliation with mainstream political parties,” Shih said.
The party’s name serves as a reminder that Aborigines are the earliest inhabitants of Taiwan, because people of Han ethnicity often have the misconception that Taiwan was a “no man’s land” before the arrival of Chinese immigrants, he said.
Besides political participation, Shih said that the party would also work with different Aboriginal rights advocacy groups to campaign for the rights of Aborigines.
Awi, a party member of the Seediq tribe, said that the party would not only work for the rights of the 14 officially recognized Aboriginal tribes, but also for the rights of Pingpu Aborigines — which include several tribes across the country that are not officially recognized by the government for complex historical reasons.
“The first nations of the country include both officially recognized Aboriginal tribes and Pingpu tribes. It is therefore one of our objectives to call for official recognition of Pingpu tribes,” Awi said.
The party will nominate candidates for local elections in 2014, as well as the legislative elections in 2016, Shih said.