President Tsai presides over fifth meeting of Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee
On the afternoon of March 29, President Tsai Ing-wen presided over the fifth meeting of the Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee. She reiterated her intention to use the committee's dialogue mechanism to enable the government and Taiwan's indigenous peoples to exercise their combined wisdom to end problems bequeathed by history. The many issues surrounding transitional justice for the indigenous peoples are complex, and accumulated over many years. So they will not be resolved by a few meetings.
Nevertheless, as long as we sit down and talk, we can certainly promote mutual understanding and find a way to move forward together. The president also invited all the first-term committee members to stay on for a second term, as per the committee's establishment guidelines, and work with her for the future of the indigenous peoples.
The following is a translation of the president's remarks:
Today is the fifth meeting of the Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee, and the final meeting of the first-term committee.
During these committee meetings, we've gradually found a way to honestly face history and begin taking steps to resolve problems.
When we discussed such issues as indigenous peoples' self-government, traditional territories, and the Pingpu ethnic groups' indigenous identity, for example, we invited people from the Forestry Bureau and Taiwan Sugar Corporation to present reports. Naturally, we have conflicts of interest and disagreements among ourselves, but after engaging in dialogue we can find places where we agree, and build consensus.
The case of Asia Cement Corporation (ACC) is another important example. During our last meeting, committee members made proposals and statements. These were important reminders to the government, and made us understand how the Truku people have felt for the past half-century.
Over the past three months, thanks to the efforts of committee member Mr. Teyra Yudaw (帖喇．尤道) and other related agencies, the government, the Truku people, and the ACC held a negotiation meeting. The meeting was originally scheduled to run for two hours but went on for over four hours, and showed positive progress. Many people were impressed by the determination of the local tribal representatives during the live broadcast of the proceedings.
This experience clearly shows the public that the indigenous peoples can negotiate with the government and corporations, and clearly express their vision for the future of their community. In just a few minutes, we will listen to a report on the meeting where they discussed the ACC case.
There's also been progress on indigenous historical justice legislation, an issue that the committee members are concerned about, and the fact-finding report about nuclear waste on Orchid Island. We'll soon hear the latest progress reports on these issues.
These problems have accumulated over many years, and may be too complex to solve in just a few meetings. Nevertheless, I believe that if we will sit down and talk, we can certainly achieve better mutual understanding and find a way to move forward together.
I once mentioned that the Atayal people have a traditional ceremony for seeking truth and reconciliation. It's called "sbalay." All of the indigenous tribes, and the cultures of all Taiwan's ethnic groups, have this kind of wisdom.
The committee's dialogue mechanism allows the government and Taiwan's indigenous peoples to work together, and show their wisdom to gradually resolve problems bequeathed by history.
The rest of the world is watching our experience with transitional justice. This past January, the US-based Freedom House noted in the Taiwan section of its Freedom in the World 2018 report that our legislature adopted the Indigenous Languages Development Act, which designates the languages spoken by 16 officially recognized indigenous tribes as national languages of Taiwan, and authorizes their formal use in legislative and legal affairs.
So committee members and all of our indigenous friends watching the broadcast of this meeting: Our efforts will be a positive inspiration for governments and indigenous peoples in other countries throughout the world. This is the value of Taiwan's democracy.
That's why I'd like to take advantage of today's meeting to formally invite all the first-term committee members to stay on for a second term, as per the committee's establishment guidelines, and work with me for the future of the indigenous peoples.
I also want to invite the conveners of our five thematic subcommittees on land matters, culture, languages, history, and reconciliation to continue as advisors to the committee, and lead your teams to set the historical record straight based on the schedule in each subcommittee's comprehensive work outline.
Over the past year or more, the committee and each of the five thematic subcommittees have gradually begun to operate smoothly. Now that an act promoting transitional justice has been passed, I want to announce that the transitional justice promotion committee will soon be set up and will include an indigenous member.
Next, our efforts to achieve historical justice for indigenous peoples have to be institutionalized. I hope we can continue to rely on all of your professional expertise and wisdom to achieve this objective together.
After concluding her remarks President Tsai heard progress reports on the ACC case, the draft act governing indigenous historical justice and the restoration of indigenous rights, and follow-up tasks from the fact-finding report on the establishment of the nuclear waste storage facility on Orchid Island. The president also spoke with committee members about various proposals, including setting up an indigenous peoples' land investigation and management committee.