TRADE PACT SIEGE: Council of Indigenous Peoples criticized

STATE’S MESSENGER?:The groups said the council was placing the government’s interests over those of the Aborigines, who would be affected by the trade pact

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Mar 27, 2014 - Page 3

Aboriginal groups yesterday voiced their support for the movement against the cross-strait service trade pact and protested against a statement from the Council of Indigenous Peoples that called on Aborigines to refrain from “believing in untrue rumors and participating in illegal assemblies.”

“We deeply regret the Council of Indigenous Peoples’ news release regarding a rally against the service trade pact organized by Aboriginal students in Taipei, which accused the students of spreading rumors and organizing illegal activities. This is unacceptable,” the Pangcah Amis Defense Alliance, the Indigenous Peoples’ Action Coalition of Taiwan and the Association for Taiwan Indigenous Peoples’ Policies said in a joint statement.

“The creation of the Council of Indigenous Peoples was the result of decades of fighting for Aboriginal rights,” they said. “We strongly condemn the council for becoming a messenger for the authoritarian governing party and the state, placing the interests of the government over those of the nation’s Aborigines.”

The council statement, released on Monday in response to the Aboriginal students’ rally on Sunday against the pact, said that most Aborigines are working in blue-collar jobs, and thus would not be affected by the trade pact.

However, another group, the Aboriginal Youth Forum Against Service Trade Pact, said it also disagreed with the council.

“The Council of Indigenous Peoples’ argument that the trade agreement would not have an impact on Aboriginal workers is baseless,” said Lisin Haluwey, a spokeswoman for the forum and a long-time Aboriginal rights activist.

“The council has overgeneralized the variety of jobs that Aborigines hold, because we are not only lower-class workers, but also owners of small businesses, including those in the tourism industry, the service industry, retail and manufacturing.”

The council made no mention of the impact on small businesses in Aboriginal areas once large-scale Chinese capital begins flowing into the country after the service trade agreement is enacted, nor did it mention the impact on the environment, culture and land ownership in Aboriginal communities, Lisin said.

“Apparently, the council did not make any in-depth study on how the cross-strait service trade agreement would affect the economy in Aboriginal communities,” she said.

The council has never explained to Aborigines the possible impact of the agreement, so “the street is the only place we may learn more about it,” she said.

“The Council of Indigenous Peoples was founded because of the Aboriginal movement in the 1980s. It should not forget that history. It should continue the spirit of the Aboriginal rights movement of the past and stand with Aboriginal students in defending our rights today,” Lisin said.