US News The Aborigines of Taiwan rely on justice to protect their traditions
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C ' is normally to the spirits that Tama Talum, an Aboriginal Bunun, sends his prayers before going to hop wild beasts in the mountains of Taiwan. But for a few days, it is especially the Taiwanese justice that it implores because this ancestral tradition of hunting is threatened.
Tama Talum, 62, was last week of the hundreds of members of his tribe to participate in Mala Hodaigian, the annual festival of hunters and game, during which prayers are singing and we offer the spirits of the 'rice alcohol and betel nuts.
This year, all had in mind the decision that justice must give Friday, whose implications may be very heavy for the aboriginal peoples of the island.
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Beyond the only freedoms of Tama Talum, the issue is whether the hunting limitations imposed on Aborigines are not simply discriminatory, and therefore unconstitutional.
"For Aborigines, hunting is a question of survival, it is our culture," explains this retired road driver in his Taitung County house, where he lives in particular with his 99-year-old mother.
The litigation dates back to eight years. Party hunting, it is stopped to have shot down a formose muntjac, a type of deer, and a Saro de Taiwan, a species of endemic goat."We hunt to eat"
charged for possession of an illegal weapon and hunt for a protected species, he is sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
For the aboriginal tribes of the island, the case was the drop of water that broke the vase after decades of restrictions.
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"The Tribunal should recognize that hunting is part of our culture, and not say it's a crime," summarizes Dahu, 42, a friend of Talum.
Aboriginal hunters are only allowed to use only homemade firearms, which, they say, is dangerous. They can only hunt on holidays, very badly tolerated restriction.
appeal appeal, the case reached the Supreme Court which confirmed the prison sentence.
The high court, however, made the rare decision to seize the Constitutional Court to say whether the current rules do not violate the rights of aborigines.
and for the latter, a decision in their favor could finally make it possible to change things after years of injustice.
The case has attracted the concern of environmental and wildlife protection organizations. But the aborigines say that a balance can be found.
"We hunt to eat, not to sell the meat and make us money," explains Talum, who started hunting with his father at 11 years old. "It's not like we're going to hunt every day and we were about to exterminate animals."
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based on anthropologists, the Aborigines of Taiwan migrated from Malaysia or Indonesia. Their tongues and customs are much closer to those of the Pacific and Southeast Asia than China.
The feeling of being left-to-account goes back to the loss of their ancestral rights on earth, already threatened by the arrival of Chinese immigrants 400 years ago.
These lands are now largely classified natural park, which causes disputes on hunting and fishing.
Like the indigenous peoples of Australia or America, the Aborigines of Taiwan were decimated by successive waves of immigration, and then suffered from discrimination under Japanese colonization and the dictatorship of the Kuomintang.
They do not represent only 2.5% of the population and are marginalized. Their wages are lower than the rest of the population, their healthier health and are more affected by unemployment.
The island has become in recent years one of the most progressive democracies in Asia.
In 2016, President Tsai Ing-Wen, the first Taiwanese head of state to have aboriginal blood, had attempted to appease the tensions by presenting the first excuses ever addressed to the indigenous peoples for the injustices suffered over the centuries.
Piya, a 27-year-old traditional dance teacher, explains that a victory in justice on hunting would only be a start, given the many fights for more justice that still need to be conducted.
"We are the first to have lived in Taiwan and we ask for mutual respect."
05/05/2021 09:46:19 - Taitung County (Taiwan) - © 2021 AFP
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