Indigenous People Refused Entrance of Traditional Territory

Indigenous People Refused Entrance of Traditional Territory
Photo Credit: *嘟嘟嘟* @ Flickr CC BY 2.0
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Hanisazan has a special significance to the Bunun people. Their ancestors migrated south from Xinyi Township and the mountain was an important watershed where the tribe would gather.

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On November 24, Legislator Tien Chiu-chin and Pastor Kavas of the Litu tribe in Taitung held a press conference at the Legislative Yuan. Kavas says last October he invited Professor Liu Chiung-hsi and others from National Taitung University to witness and record the declaration and recovering of the his people’s traditional territories on Hanisazan, but was rejected entrance of the mountain by the police. Regarding this, Liu believes all illegitimate control measures related to the territory of aboriginals should be abolished to fully carry out transitional justice in Taiwan.

Hanisazan has a special significance to the Bunun people. Their ancestors migrated south from Xinyi Township and the mountain was an important watershed where the tribe would gather. On October 23 last year, Pastor Kavas brought his friends to Hanisazan where they came across more than ten police standing in a line in front of the entrance of Pinsimuk. The police said they couldn’t allow the group who had aboriginal identities to enter the mountain based on the National Security Act, which states citizens need permission from authorities to enter controlled mountain areas.

After failing to communicate with the police in Bunun language, Pastor Kavas still insisted he has the right to bring the academics to the traditional territory to witness him planting chayote on Hanisazan as a declaration of reclaiming the land. However, on October 20 this year, the police brought in Liu and other four people for trespassing the mountain and violating the National Security Act.

Regarding this, Kavas says he can’t accept the government denying aboriginals their sovereignty over traditional territories and regulating the freedom of people through the National Security Act. He thinks it’s even more absurd that he has been asked to testify against his friends in court.

Liu, who has long been involved in environmental movements, points out that recognition of aboriginals’ sovereignty of land and nature is a fundamental human right in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Indigenous Peoples Basic Law passed in 2005 by the Legislative Yuan and the two human rights conventions passed in 2009 also clearly state the government should recognize these rights.

As for the possibility of facing six months in prison, Liu calls on the abolishment of all illegitimate control measures related to the territory of aboriginals. In this regard, all related people refused to appear in court on November 23 in protest against the government authority.

CNA reports, Legislator Tien Chiu-chin says it’s important for aboriginals to regain sovereignty and that Taiwan should launch related discussions or the people will not know how to stop similar incidents from occurring. Tien calls on the presidential candidates to work together in learning the significance of aboriginals regaining sovereignty.

Translated by Olivia Yang

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