Truku Aborigines Protest 'Unfair' Police Arrest

Truku Aborigines Protest 'Unfair' Police Arrest
台灣原住民族太魯閣族學生青年會前會長Ciwang Teyra,在反亞泥路跑現場講述此地名為太魯閣。Photo Credit:地球公民基金會

What you need to know

Aborigines claim they are prosecuted for carrying out their traditions.

Truku Aborigines from the Knkreyan Village, also known as Tongmen Village (銅門部落), in Hualien County gathered in front of the Ninth Division of the Seventh Special Police Corps today to protest over the arrest of three tribe members.

Local police arrested the three men under the Mining Act on Aug. 18 for the illegal mining of rhodonite, a pink mineral prized by collectors, on state-owned land. However, one of the Knkreyan villagers, Rakaw Didi, said the rock collected by the men was limestone, not rhodonite.

The 200-kg rock in question was handed over to the Hualien Forestry Bureau for examination, and then returned to the location where it was found, the Chinese-language Liberty Times reported. Police claim the rock was rhodonite. The Hualien Forestry Bureau has yet to confirm those claims.

In a Facebook post, the Ninth Division says police received a tip-off informing them that the three men were mining rhodonite in the Tongmen area. The men were found using an electric winch and cables to lift the rock from the river bed. Rakaw Didi said police were giving the Truku Aborigines a bad name by claiming the Truku men were stealing rhodonite from the area.

Tongmen Tribal Council Chairman Masaw said the constant arrests of Aborigines demonstrate that President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) Aug. 1 apology was "insincere."

Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples Basic Law, which came into effect in 2005, ensures the right of Aborigines to practice their traditions and protects their rights to land and natural resources.

However, Chen Tsai-i (陳采邑) of the Indigenous Peoples Committee under the Taiwan Legal Aid Foundation told Taiwan Indigenous TV that many policemen are unaware of Aborigines’ rights under the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law, which is why so many of these arrests keep occurring.

Last October, five Truku men from Tongmen were also arrested upon returning from their annual mgay bari Thanksgiving hunt, even though their hunting activities were legally registered with the relevant authorities. Their firearms and meat from their kill were confiscated.

Truku tribe members then held a sit-in the following month to protest the arrest in front of the Hualien County Police Bureau for over an hour until Deputy Commissioner Yang Kuo-hsiang (楊國祥) met with them and accepted their petition.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole