President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pushed for improvement in indigenous people’s rights to align with global standards, and called on society to respect and learn more from indigenous peoples.
The president was speaking at the opening of this year’s Indigenous Rights Forum held to mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Indigenous rights are deeply connected to the concept of human rights — from the ratification of the UN’s two covenants on human rights to the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Taiwanese government’s promulgation of the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act (原住民族基本法), Tsai said.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
“These steps to improve human rights also go toward endorsing and safeguarding the rights of indigenous peoples to their land, language, culture and their group identity,” Tsai told the forum, which was organized by the National Human Rights Commission and the Council of Indigenous Peoples.
She added that six years ago, the Presidential Office set up the Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee, and two years ago, the Control Yuan launched the National Human Rights Commission to promote transitional justice for indigenous peoples.
Aside from implementing policies for indigenous peoples and protecting their rights, the government is working more to make them “more mainstream” in society, she said.
Resources and mechanisms are now in place to have government meetings hold simultaneous interpretations of indigenous languages, she said.
“The government supports indigenous peoples’ rights to promote their culture, and has established television and radio networks for indigenous peoples,” she said, adding that she has noticed that many young indigenous people are active on YouTube and Instagram, and many have podcasts.
“We wish to see that each year’s August 1 is not just for indigenous peoples, but for all people in Taiwan to mark this day,” she said.
“Our society should pay respect to and to learn from indigenous peoples,” she said.
Separately, Australian Representative to Taiwan Jenny Bloomfield also marked the occasion with a video post on the Facebook page of the Australian Office in Taipei on Sunday.
“Australia and Taiwan have worked even closer together over recent years to strengthen exchanges between our indigenous peoples and communities,” she said in the video.
In a statement yesterday, she said that “indigenous cultures, languages, histories and traditions are a vital part of who we are — and they form a special bond between Australia and Taiwan.”
“Today, we are proud to join with you as you celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Taiwan’s Indigenous peoples. We will continue to work together to promote opportunities for Indigenous peoples everywhere; to ensure that the rights and traditions of Indigenous peoples are respected; and that all Indigenous peoples are full participants and beneficiaries of a free, open and fairer world,” it said.
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