Sunday, April 12, 2009

Indigenous Siraya People of Taiwan: Protest Status by Government

On May 2nd, 2009, the Siraya people, one of several low-land Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan, will be gathering in Taipei for a peaceful protest to demand the formal redress of their status by the government.

The Siraya are currently on record as being “ripe (savage)”, an undeniably racist label that became official in the early 1900s.

What’s more, the Siraya are widely regarded in mainstream society as being an extinct people. But that’s just not the case, as the Siraya themselves have been proving over the past ten years.

Indeed, the Siraya’s language, identity and culture was just laying dormant—and now it is ready to flourish once again.

For this end, the Tainan Pingpu Siraya Culture Association, who’s organizing the upcoming protest, has put together a petition to support the Siraya’s effort to reclaim their identities.
Map of Indigenous Peoples Territories in Taiwan
Please take a moment to sign the petition:

Our Statement: Please give us back our names

For us Pingpu peoples in Taiwan, it is too long a time that we have been forgotten in the modern history of Taiwan. Structural violence in the government’s policy has emptied the phrase “life of Pingpu” and made it a historical term that only awaits condolence. Such policy and history ignore the fact that we are still living strong. For generations, we reside on this beautiful island of Formosa, surviving and reproducing, but we remain unrecognized and our names lost. Today, the Pingpu peoples have become orphans in our own country. We are absent, with blank names.

Based on (1) the acknowledgment of self-determination as one of indigenous peoples’ basic human rights, (2) the recognition of Siraya people’s own claim to indigenous identity and justice in history, (3) and reassuring the collective will of the indigenous peoples, since the beginning of 2009 Tainan County Government has responded to the Siraya individuals, whose families were registered as “ripe (savage)” during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, by re-registering them officially as “indigenes.” Such an act has its legal basis: Taiwan Government’s Province Regulation, Item 128663 (1/22/1957), and Civil Regulation, Item 01957 (3/11/1957), clearly state that the individuals registered as “ripe” under Japanese rule should be recognized and re-registered as low-land indigenes.

Unfortunately, the Council for Indigenous Peoples under Taiwan’s central government has still not yet responded to the Pingpu peoples’ claim and request. Therefore, Tainan Pingpu Siraya Culture Association has taken the initiative to start this petition. Also, on May 2nd, 2009, the Siraya people and our friends will gather on Katagalan Blvd. in Taipei for a street protest in front of the central government, to express our voices and seek support from all sectors of the society and governmental institutions. For our children, for the Pingpu group, for the basic human rights, and for justice in the history, we demand the government return the accurate identity and deserved dignity to the Pingpu peoples, who have never disappeared.

Our request

1. Council for Indigenous Peoples (CIP) should admit that it is the government’s mistake and its improper laws that have deprived the indigenous identity of the Pingpu peoples. We request CIP redress such mistakes by directing the local governments on the city and county levels, via official administrative orders, that they recognize and return the “indigenous” identity to the Pingpu individuals whose families were formerly registered as “ripe (savage)” under the Japanese rule.

2. CIP should also recognize that there are Pingpu individuals who and/or whose families were not able to be registered as “ripe” under the former governments. Hence, we demand CIP re-examine Item #8 of the Regulation Concerning Indigenous Identity and adhere to the two principles in common legal practice, “analogy” and “applicability,” to provide these individuals a proper legal basis for attaining the official indigenous identity.

3. It is a simple fact that the Pingpu peoples’ concern with attaining official indigenous status is completely constitutional, legal, rational, and humane. Hence, CIP should also seek consensual resolutions for the related issues such as human rights, policies, and their implementations, by having honest conversations with the Pingpu peoples. CIP should never put inadequate political considerations above the basic rights of the Pingpu peoples.

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