Citing “transitional justice,” Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) yesterday called for the return of Aboriginal land that is now in the hands of a private corporation and for the establishment of a monument to commemorate an Atayal tribe’s heroism in fighting the Japanese colonial army.
During a legislative interpellation, Chin, who is half-Atayal and represents an Aboriginal constituency, first re-examined Premier Lin Chuan’s (林全) remarks about comfort women earlier this month, saying what Lin had said about “respecting different views” on whether comfort women were forced into sexual slavery — for which Lin later apologized — was viewed from the perspective of a “colonist.”
“If I were you, I would have said that the comfort women issue was a face-off between justice and fascism, and there is no question of volition under militaristic rule during the [Japanese] colonial period. I would have demanded that the minister of education keep the historical statement that comfort women were forced in textbooks and asked Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), the nation’s representative to Japan, to formally request compensation and an apology from the Japanese government,” she said.
“There are only two positions — the colonizers and the colonized — when dealing with history. Upholding the so-called ‘respecting different views’ is glossing over crimes committed by the colonizers,” she added.
Chin then called the officials’ attention to the loss of land of the Atayal who used to live in Bngciq (大豹社), in today’s Sansia District (三峽), New Taipei City.
“In 1895, the year Japan began its colonial rule in Taiwan, the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan issued an order declaring that the land of the Aborigines (番地) had no owners and are therefore properties of the state,” Chin said.
Since then, the Aborigines have lost, “in terms of the law,” the land they need for survival
In 1906, the Atayal of Bngciq were forced out of their homeland and relocated to today’s Fusing Township (復興), Taoyuan, after a series of clashes with the Japanese colonial government, which had opened up the region to camphor businesses.
“In 1946, [then-tribal leader] Losin Watan, who adopted the Chinese name Lin Rei-chang (林瑞昌) [after the Republic of China government took over Taiwan in 1945], petitioned the Chinese Nationalist Party government (KMT) for the return of the land of the Bngciq to the Atayal, but [his request] was denied,” Chin said.
“In 1952, Losin, framed in a communist spy case, was arrested and executed in 1954. Watan Tanga (林昭明), Losin’s nephew, was also accused of involvement in the case and put behind bars for 15 years,” the lawmaker said.
Chin said that part of the Bngciq land had been given to Mitsui Gomei Co, which used it to build the largest tea factory in East Asia during the colonial period.
“The land was not returned to the Atayal, but handed over to the Taiwan Provincial Government [after 1945], which transferred it to a privately owned amusement park, which later transferred it to another private company for its ‘forest park,’ now called the The Great Roots Forestry Spa Resort,” she added.
Calling the process “whitewashing of stolen land,” Chin asked the premier and Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Icyang Parod whether the Bngciq issue counts toward the new government’s transitional justice project.
Both gave affirmative answers.
Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said the ministry would look into the matter if the related documents are sufficiently comprehensive.
Chin also called for the establishment of a monument to the Atayal of Bngciq who fought against the Japanese colonial armies to safeguard their homeland.
“It would show the government’s resolute attitude toward transitional justice, which should not be carried out just for a minority of people,” Chin said.
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