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August 22, 2017

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Aboriginal activists refuse to honor

TAIPEI--A group of aboriginal activists said Wednesday that they refuse to celebrate the Republic of China (R.O.C.) centennial because the government continues to suppress their rights.

A music ritual symbolizing revolt will be held Oct. 9, one day before the R.O.C. National Day, said the Indigenous Peoples Action Coalition of Taiwan (PACT), asking the public from all walks of life to support their move.

"The government has in the past 100 years deprived us of our land rights, disrespected our way of life and marginalized our culture," said Lituan, PACT's convener, in a press conference.

"We cannot tolerate their doings anymore," he said, accompanied by representatives from members of the Seediq and Atayal tribes, who shouted slogans calling for the recovery of their culture.

Referring to the R.O.C. government as an unjust government-in-exile, Lituan said that although the country's indigenous peoples have been living on Taiwanese soil for thousands of years, they are still treated as subordinates and minorities.

The R.O.C. government moved to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the Chinese Civil War to the communist People's Republic of China.

Taking land issues as an example, Lituan said that without consulting the aboriginals and taking into consideration their needs, the government recently forced them to move from the mountains to the plains after serious flooding destroyed their villages.

"They don't respect us. They manage us using Han thinking," he said. The centennial celebration has a very hollow ring to it, he went on, because the rights of the indigenous peoples — the true people of Taiwan — are constantly neglected and oppressed.

The government has a lot of work to do in terms of aboriginal affairs, said Kuan Da-wei, an assistant professor at National Chengchi University's Department of Ethnology.

Kuan, a scholar who is himself of Atayal origin, said that despite the passage of a law designed to protect the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples, the content has not been fully implemented.

Although the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law stipulates indigenous peoples' right to land and natural resources, the government still allows private companies into mountainous regions to build theme parks and exploit the natural resources, he noted.

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