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Taiwan legislature confirms Tsai’s formal apology to indigenous peoples

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) - Newly-installed Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will extend an apology to the indigenous people on Indigenous Peoples' Day, August 1.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is expected to extend a formal apology to indigenous peoples on Indigenous Peoples' Day, August 1, according to a statement by Executive Yuan Secretary-General Chen Mei-ling on Thursday (May 26).

A “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” inside the Presidential Office will be set up to handle transitional justice matters for the indigenous peoples as well, Chen said during a Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee meeting for reviewing bills on transitional justice issues.

Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) Minister Icyang Parod was in attendance at the meeting as well, reported local media.

He stated that transitional justice for indigenous peoples should be undertaken through a comprehensive schedule and planning, which would emphasise the significance of acknowledging indigenous people in the overall process, as well as the unique importance of upholding transitional justice discussions for aborigines.

In the current scenario, the CIP minister proposes active formulation of the Indigenous Autonomy Act, Indigenous Peoples Land and Waters Rights Act, inclusion of indigenous peoples’ traditional customs into the nation’s law, and other regulation amendments to the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law.

The Executive Yuan will proactively push for renewed study of historical treatment of indigenous people, Chen said, including the gradual implementation of transitional justice to carry out the autonomy of indigenous groups.

“These are the country’s aims in carrying out existing policies and drafting future policy agendas,” she stated.

Handling of indigenous peoples’ transitional justice issues this time around differs from the kind that was undertaken during Taiwan’s martial law period, Chen emphasised, which according to the draft bill proposed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), involved actions and measures that violated the democratic nation’s constitution.

Back in late January after her landslide win in the presidential elections, Tsai told supporters in Taitung that aboriginal people have experienced rule under different authorities and foreign bodies in the past. Compared to other groups living in Taiwan, the indigenous are at a disadvantage in terms of economy, education and health. “This is oppression and inequality caused by history,” Tsai said, which is what spurred her on to make the apology.
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