Aboriginal representatives yesterday made a plea at a public hearing to demand the return of lands appropriated by the government in the Hualien County area.
Forty Amiss tribal chiefs and elders took part in the public hearing to press their claim to 622 hectares that is currently owned by the Taiwan Sugar Corp.
PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES
The public hearing, entitled "Return-My-Land," was sponsored by legislator Payen Talu (
Representatives from Taiwan Sugar, the Council of Aboriginal Affairs, the Legislative Yuan's bureau of legal affairs and the Association of Taiwan Indigenous People's Politics (ATIPP) were also represented at the meeting.
The 622-hectare area has undergone extensive development since it was appropriated and hosts three ethnic-Chinese villages: Da-hsing, His-fu and Fu-yuan.
"The land historically has belonged to us," said Aaung Nouw Ay Jiyeuss, an Amiss spokesperson. "The Taiwan Sugar Corp received the land from the outside forces who came and took away our land without seeking our consent."
Jiyeuss was referring to the Japanese colonial period from 1895 to 1945 during which tribal peoples were forced to live in mountainous areas.
The colonial government appropriated thousands of hectares of tribal land in order to exploit forest, mineral and agricultural resources.
"When the KMT came to Taiwan in 1949, it received the lands from the Japanese and continued the occupation and exploitation of them by claiming them as government property," said Aaung Nouw Ay Jiyeuss.
Amiss elders present said that as a result, tribal peoples were forced to abandon their land and to live in mountainous areas.
Huang Jorn-hun (黃哲宏), vice president of Taiwan Sugar Corp, said that "the company is willing to negotiate over the matter, though the fact remains that it did gain ownership of the land in accordance with the law."
However, the Amiss disagreed.
"We don't recognize Taiwan Sugar Corp's ownership of the land because the law has been created according to the values of the Han people which have neither incorporated nor acknowledged Aborigines," Aaung Nouw Ay Jiyeuss said.
A legal matter
Huang Nuan-fang (
"No matter what, in a legal fight, Taiwan Sugar Corp is regarded having full ownership of the land," Huang said.
Siao Shih-hui (
"Compiling sufficient background information concerning the land will be difficult," said Chang Chen-jorn (
Most Amiss tribal members live in the mountainous areas around Hualien. It is the largest, with 150,000 members, of the nine Aborigine tribes that still exist in Taiwan.
In total approximately 400,000, or 1.65 percent of Taiwan's 23 million people claim Aboriginal decent. Most Aborigines live in scatter settlements and small villages in the most remote areas of the country's east and southeast.
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