Taiwan Retrocession Day 2017

This week – and today specifically – marks the 72nd anniversary of Japan’s surrender of Taiwan to the Chinese Nationalist forces in the wake of the former’s defeat in World War 2. The arrival of Nationalist administration, however, was not and has not been universally embraced, and today, some issues remain unaddressed. Among those is the subject of the on-going protest sit-in by Aboriginal land rights advocates at National Taiwan University Hospital MRT Station in Taipei. Originally located on Ketagalan Boulevard, a short distance from the Presidential Office, in June the protesters were driven out and relocated to their current site, which plays host on weekday evenings to various talks on Indigenous issues by a range of speakers.

Photo by: Geof Aberhart

On Monday, October 23rd, protest leaders Panai Kusui, Nabu Husungan Istanda, and 馬躍.比吼 Mayaw Biho led a small group on a “short journey” to three government locations around Taipei City: the Executive Yuan, the Forestry Bureau, and the Government Office Building (home to the Department of Land Administration), to again state their case. Led by the wheelchair-bound Nabu Husungan Istanda, the group marched along the streets to the sound of traditional Aboriginal chants and to loud explanations of the situation; “This week marks the 72nd anniversary of Taiwan’s retrocession, and we Indigenous peoples of Taiwan wish to be able to celebrate alongside our Chinese brethren. However, Retrocession Day is not a day in which we can also take joy, as what has not been retroceded is the rights and lands that have been stripped from us.”

Photo by: Geof Aberhart

Speaking with the director of the Forestry Bureau’s Forest Planning Division Chang Tai, Panay Kusui laid out their case, including questioning the reduction in Aboriginal land to be set aside by the government from 1.8 million hectares (equivalent to Aboriginal territory at the time of the Japanese turnover of Taiwan) to just 0.8 million, about the replacement of logged natural forests with single-species artificial forests, and questioning the director-general on statistics regarding Aboriginal people arrested for exercising traditional rights of hunting and collecting plants. Nabu Husungan Istanda, for his part, was more impassioned; “This is our home! We lived here for thousands of years before you arrived! You should be learning from us, not from other countries or from things you’ve just made up! We don’t want your pretty words, we want action!”

From the Forestry Bureau, the group made their way to the Government Office Building, met by rows of several dozen police officers at the gates, including several wielding riot shields. Again, the case was set out, with the activists demanding that the friendly words made by President Tsai in her apology to Taiwan’s Aboriginal peoples be more than just words. Finally, they returned to their adopted home at NTU Hospital MRT Exit 1, where their “Nobody is an Outsider (沒有人是局外人)” sit-in continued into its 242nd day, with no sign of an official response from the government.

Photo by: Geof Aberhart

For more information on the protests, see Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/…/Indigenous_Ketagalan_Boulevard_p…) or this article from early in the protests at The News Lens (https://international.thenewslens.com/article/63907).

#Aborigines #landrights #RetrocessionDay #原住民 #還我土地 #沒有人是局外人 #光復節


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