Taiwan: Tsai outlines progress, directions for indigenous transitional justice

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    President Tsai Ing-wen (front row, sixth left) and other participants attend a preparatory meeting for the establishment of the Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Commission Dec. 27 at the Office of the President in Taipei City. (Courtesy of Office of the President)

    President Tsai Ing-wen said Dec. 27 that the government is committed to promoting historical and transitional justice for Taiwan’s indigenous peoples, vowing to advance autonomy and land rights while preserving aboriginal cultures, languages and history.

    Tsai made the remarks during a preparatory meeting in Taipei City for the establishment of the Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Commission under the Office of the President. She said that the government has laid considerable groundwork for the formation of the body, which will work to uncover historical truths, right past wrongs, build consensus on policy directions, promote reconciliation, and further ingrain justice and diversity in society.

    Headed by Tsai, the commission will convene for the first time next year. Members have been elected through democratic process and represent the vast majority of Taiwan’s 16 officially recognized indigenous tribes.

    According to the president, the government is pursuing a three-pronged approach to achieving reconciliation. These are effectively implementing the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law, seeking historical justice for Taiwan’s indigenous peoples, and establishing a platform for eventual indigenous autonomy.

    Tsai said that the official apology she issued Aug. 1 on behalf of the Republic of China (Taiwan) government to Taiwan’s indigenous peoples for past suffering and unfair treatment marked a crucial first step in the process. “The government must do more and do better to make up for past mistakes while seeking truth and reconciliation,” she said.

    The president noted that the Cabinet-level Council of Indigenous Peoples has translated the apology into 16 indigenous languages as well as English and Japanese, demonstrating the significance that the government attaches to aboriginal language preservation.

    Other measures enacted by the government in recent months include convening regular Cabinet meetings to promote implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law, reviewing relevant laws and regulations to determine if they are in accordance with the interests and rights of indigenous peoples, and fast-tracking bills on indigenous autonomy, land and sea management and language development.

    According to the CIP, indigenous Malayo-Polynesian peoples have lived in Taiwan for millennia, with archaeological evidence confirming their presence dating back 12,000 to 15,000 years. The latest CIP statistics revealed that the collective population of these groups in Taiwan stood at around 530,000, or 2.3 percent of the total. (KWS-E)

    Source: Taiwan Today