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President Tsai presides over 14th Meeting of Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee
President Tsai presides over 14th Meeting of Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee

The 14th meeting of the Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee convened on December 29, the first meeting of the third-term Committee. Committee convener President Tsai Ing-wen presided, and was accompanied by deputy convener Vice President Lai Ching-te for the approximately one-and-a-half-hour meeting.

Following is a translation of President Tsai's opening statement:

Today is the first meeting of the third-term Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee ("the Committee"). Following the nomination period, the indigenous tribes have elected their representatives to continue participating in Committee functions.

I am pleased to see some familiar faces here today, and to meet all the representatives new to the Committee.

I want to congratulate the re-elected Committee members, as well as the new members. The most important thing is that we are gathered here for a single purpose: to continue promoting historical and transitional justice for indigenous peoples.

I would like to begin by giving everyone a brief review:

On Indigenous Peoples' Day in 2016, I issued an apology to Taiwan's indigenous peoples on behalf of the government. Soon thereafter, I launched the Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee.

The Committee is a platform for dialogue, with the government and tribal representatives on an equal footing. I hope that through our collective discussions, we can clarify historical facts, spur societal communication, and ultimately formulate effective policy proposals.

Over the past four years, we have launched many new initiatives, raised awareness about indigenous peoples' historical perspectives, and gradually incorporated those perspectives into our legislation and education. In a moment, the Committee staff will provide more details about these achievements in their reports.

However, I am well aware that there are many issues, the legacy of several hundred years, still waiting to be addressed. Over the past year, inappropriate remarks about indigenous peoples have appeared on university campuses, in the entertainment field, and online. These controversial incidents have caused concern among indigenous peoples, and show that Taiwanese society still has much room for improvement to achieve our ideal of ethnic mainstreaming.

This is why we are here today.

The Committee members here today include traditional leaders and senior cultural workers who are much admired in their communities, as well as elected representatives, civil servants, clergymen, and teachers. There are also elders with a wealth of experience, and young people with a passion for indigenous community affairs who have returned to their hometowns. I hope to hear more of your ideas.

I would also like to give a special introduction to Vice President Lai Ching-te, who I have invited to participate in the third-term Committee. Representatives from government agencies include Minister without Portfolio Lin Wan-i (林萬億) who is very familiar with indigenous affairs, as well as Minister of Culture Lee Yung-te (李永得).

I hope that we will all work together, embracing all ethnic groups and all generations. The Committee must not only end the historical legacy of pain and injustice, but more importantly, must continue to define Taiwan's culture and future through the perspective of our indigenous peoples.

So let's begin today's meeting.

This was the first meeting of the third-term Committee, which began with President Tsai presenting letters of appointment to each committee member. Based on the provisions in the "Guidelines for Establishment of the Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee," the Committee membership is composed of representatives elected by each of the indigenous tribes, scholars, experts, and representatives of government agencies. Vice President Lai was appointed by President Tsai to serve concurrently as a member and a deputy convener of the Committee. The other deputy convener is Alang Manglavan from the Bunun tribe, who was elected by the indigenous peoples' representatives at the preparatory meeting.

The Committee's Executive Secretary Icyang Parod and Council of Indigenous Peoples Deputy Minister Calivat Gadu (鍾興華) then reported on the implementation status of indigenous historical justice and transitional justice efforts. Their briefing presented the many important achievements of the first and second-term iterations of the Committee and a vision for subsequent tasks. Those achievements include: the designation of indigenous languages as national languages; re-launching the Executive Yuan's Indigenous Peoples Basic Law Promotion Committee; establishment of indigenous peoples’ historical perspective; implementation and restoration of land justice; investigation of the truth regarding the nuclear waste storage facility on Orchid Island and payment of compensation; and the promotion of trilateral negotiations regarding mining at the Asia Cement Corporation's Xincheng Mountain Mine.

At the meeting, each member of the third-term Committee was presented with a book recounting the Committee's achievements in restoring truth and achieving justice during its first three years in operation. The book was published in September 2020, and has been provided to universities and public libraries for public access.

During discussions, the Committee passed an amendment to the "Operation Standards for the Thematic Subcommittees of the Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee." In coordination with the "Guidelines for Establishment of the Presidential Office Human Rights Consultative Committee," the amended Operation Standards specify that the Committee has three thematic subcommittees focusing on land matters, history, and reconciliation. The chairperson of each subcommittee is the deputy minister at the Council of Indigenous Peoples, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Culture, respectively.

And finally, President Tsai thanked the Committee members for their presentations and comments, and delivered the following closing remarks:

Today's meeting is drawing to a close, and I want to thank all of the Committee members for participating. I look forward to working with everyone to continue making meaningful changes through this platform.

We will be celebrating the New Year in just a few days, so I want to extend early best wishes to one and all for a Happy New Year. At the end of each year, ethnic groups like the Pinuyumayan and Sediq also hold their annual rituals, and I want to wish all the ceremonial activities great success. Thank you.

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