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April 23, 2017

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Aboriginal transitional justice body 'lacks concrete power'

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Aboriginal scholars and experts on Wednesday said that without legal foundation, President Tsai Ing-wen's proposed aboriginal transitional justice committee subordinate to the Presidential Office was no more than just an empty framework with little substance.

They called upon the new government to take actions by establishing law concerning indigenous people's rights, "otherwise awareness for our people which the presidential apology has aroused will just quickly fade away."

A forum held by the National Policy Foundation (NPF) was head ed by Tunkan Tansikian (陳張培倫), former vice chairman of the Council of Indigenous Peoples on Thursday to discuss the future and concerns for the newly established aboriginal people's transitional justice committee.

Tamkang University associate professor Pao Cheng-hao (包正豪) said that without a coherent law, and especially the power to investigate, the aboriginal transitional justice committee was only just a task force created to do research.

"And probably not even proper research," he said, as most members of the committee are not employed on a permanent basis and currently the government has not allocated a budget for the committee.

He remained pessimistic about the prospect of making any concrete improvements in terms of achieving genuine transitional justice.

Also at the forum was professor Lakyh' Looh' (洪清一) of National Dong Hwa University's Department of Special Education.

He said that without a legal foundation, no one could be sure whether or not the committee would be scrapped in the future if a different party took office.

Daya Dakasi (官大偉), associate professor of the Department of Ethnology at National Chengchi University, said that the injustice and horrid treatment of the indigenous peoples in the past should be discussed within a framework of national dialogue.

"It should go beyond politics," he said, noting that the opposition party should be supporting the ruling party in proceeding with restoring aboriginal history and the truth.

President Tsai Ing-wen issued an official apology to the indigenous people on Aug. 1, acknowledging the invasion of aboriginal lands and deprivation of aboriginal rights throughout the island's history.

She promised to establish a committee under the Presidential Office, and to address the mistakes made by the former government and abuse of aboriginal rights through the committee.

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