Aboriginal land rules break law: advocates

Government guidelines to delineate traditional Aboriginal areas violate the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law (原住民族基本法) and would rule out the inclusion of private land, Aboriginal rights advocates said yesterday, calling for a revision to leave the door open for the inclusion of private land.

“We do not understand the stance of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, which says we should settle for current guidelines and fight for improvements later,” Yapasuyongu Akuyanam, a Tsou and president of the Association for Taiwan Indigenous People’s Policy, said at a news conference, adding that the council could begin to delineate traditional areas on public land while considering revisions to include private land.

Aboriginal rights advocates have protested for months against the failure to include private land in the guidelines since they were announced earlier this year, including a nearly uninterrupted sit-in near the Presidential Office Building in Taipei.

“The current guidelines risk shaking the core of Aboriginal rights by poking holes in our traditional territories [by excluding private land],” Atayal People’s Council speaker Lbak Utuk Wuduk said, demanding that legislative caucuses outline a clear stance on whether traditional areas should include private land, as well as on allowing Aboriginal communities input and control over the delineation process.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Sra Kacaw (鄭天財), an Amis, said that legislative consideration of the council’s guidelines have stalled since cross-caucus negotiations in the International Administration Committee broke down last month, adding that “traditional areas” in the law should be interpreted as including private land.

“The current guidelines benefit Taiwan Sugar Corp and development firms. Why are they being excluded, even as privately owned Aboriginal ‘reserved land’ is included?” he said.

“The reality is that there can still be differentiation in executing Aboriginal communities’ rights to know and approve development on different types of land, and there will differing amounts of influence for different types of development,” Paiwan People’s Council preparation group member Ljegay Rupeljengan said. “Our concern is that if you exclude private land from traditional areas at the start, there will not be a way to win them back in the future.”

New Power Party Legislator Kawlo Iyun Pacidal also attended the news conference, while DPP Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩) sent a representative.