Pres­i­dent Tsai says ‘sorry’ to abo­rig­ines

The Myanmar Times - - World -

PRES­I­DENT Tsai Ing-wen for­mally apol­o­gised to Tai­wan’s in­dige­nous peo­ple for their cen­turies of suf­fer­ing yes­ter­day, the coun­try’s first ever leader to do so.

Ms Tsai, the is­land’s only leader with abo­rig­i­nal blood, will per­son­ally head a com­mit­tee to in­ves­ti­gate past in­jus­tices as part of gov­ern­ment ef­forts to ease ten­sions with the na­tive com­mu­nity.

“I apol­o­gise to the in­dige­nous peo­ple on be­half of the gov­ern­ment, to give our deep­est apol­ogy over the suf­fer­ing and in­jus­tice you en­dured over the past 400 years,” she said in her speech.

“We need to look at his­tory se­ri­ously and speak out the truth,” she said, adding that apol­o­gis­ing was “another step for­ward”.

Hun­dreds of abo­rig­i­nals staged protests out­side the pres­i­den­tial of­fice here over the week­end, call­ing for pro­tec­tion of their hunt­ing rights and de­mand­ing con­crete ac­tions from the gov­ern­ment.

The in­dige­nous com­mu­nity – which makes up about 2 per­cent of Tai­wan’s 23.5 mil­lion peo­ple – have seen their tra­di­tional cul­ture eroded since im­mi­grants started ar­riv­ing from China cen­turies ago.

Much of their land is now des­ig­nated na­tional park, lead­ing to clashes over hunt­ing, fishing and for­ag­ing in ar­eas where per­mits are needed.

To­day, they are still a marginalised group, with wages about 40pc less than the na­tional av­er­age. –

Photo: AFP

Tama Talum (cen­tre) and fel­low abo­rig­i­nal hunters car­ry­ing shot­guns in the moun­tains in Taitung, eastern Tai­wan. Pres­i­dent Tsai Ing-wen de­liv­ered the first ever apol­ogy to the is­land’s in­dige­nous peo­ple yes­ter­day for in­jus­tices over the cen­turies.

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