Aboriginal groups yesterday voiced support for the people of Inner Mongolia, saying that China is to blame for protests because it is suppressing Mongolian language and culture in the region.
Chinese education officials in the region have barred classes in subjects other than the Mongolian language from being taught in anything but Chinese.
Students and teachers have decried the policy, with many not attending class in protest.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
At a rally outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, the Tayal National Assembly, the Indigenous Peoples’ Action Coalition of Taiwan, the Association for Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Policy and other organizations denounced what they called China’s policy of “cultural genocide.”
Rukai Legislator Saidai Tarovecahe of the Democratic Progressive Party told a news conference at the rally that mother tongues are the essence of knowledge of the natural environment, and for understanding life and the world.
“The fastest way to wipe out an ethnic group is to cut them off from their mother tongue,” she said.
“It is regretful that China’s authoritarian regime is adopting an assimilation policy against its ethnic minorities,” she said.
“A living Aboriginal language is like an identity card for us. If the language dies, then Aborigines would also die,” said former Council of Indigenous Peoples minister Yohani Isqaqavut, a Bunun, who is now a Presbyterian pastor and part of the church’s Taiwan Indigenous Ministry Committee.
“Aboriginal cultures, languages and traditions were suppressed” under the assimilation policies of the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime, he said.
“It forced them to identify as Han Chinese ... so I can understand what the people of Inner Mongolia are going through right now,” he said.
“China has been promoting the use of Chinese while it is eradicating the mother tongue of ethnic minorities — which denies the basic rights of these people,” he said.
“We want to raise awareness of this issue and to protest against this shameful policy of the Chinese regime,” he said.
Independent Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) said that people in China should have the same freedoms as Taiwanese.
“As a proud father of a three-year-old daughter, I want her to speak our mother tongue freely at kindergarten,” Lim said. “The actions of the Chinese government is to totally suppress the learning environment for Mongolian children, which will lead to the extermination of ethnic Mongolians in the region.”
“I urge countries around the world to support Inner Mongolia, and defend Mongolians’ right to their mother tongue,” he said.
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