Taipei times News :CIP(The Council of Indigenous Peoples, Taiwan ) defines boundaries over Smangus!

By Loa Iok-sinSTAFF REPORTER Friday, Oct 19, 2007, Page 2 (Taipei Times)
More than two years after a group of Atayal Aborigines from Smangus Village in Hsinchu County were sentenced to prison terms by the Taiwan High Court for removing a fallen tree from the forest, the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) made a "historic" announcement yesterday that defined boundaries of traditional domains belonging to Aboriginal villages in Hsinchu County.
"The 37,874.04 hectares of land belonging to Yufeng (玉峰) and Siouluan (秀鑾) villages of Chienshih Township (尖石), Hsinchu County, are now the traditional domain of the Atayal tribe," council Minister Icyang Parod announced at a news conference at the council yesterday.
"Local Aborigines may apply to gather forestry products for cultural and ritual purposes or private use," Icyang said.
A detailed map and set of guidelines on collection of forestry products were also announced yesterday.
The traditional domain definition came as a result of the Smangus case, Council of Agriculture Deputy Minister Lee Jen-chyuan (李健全) said at the press conference.
In 2005, three young men from the Atayal community of Smangus in Yufeng Village were indicted for stealing national property as they moved part of a fallen tree after a typhoon.
Although the Aboriginal Basic Law (原住民族基本法) protects Aborigines' rights to handle forestry products within their traditional domains, no legal document could prove the location of the fallen tree was within the Smangus community's traditional domain.
The three young men were found guilty by district and appeals courts earlier this year.
"The executive branch of the government certainly has no power over the judiciary, but we'll submit the documents to the court and would be glad to testify in court if necessary," Icyang said.
Jienshih Township Mayor Tseng Hsiao-chung (曾效忠) lauded the announcement as a "historic breakthrough."
Some Aboriginal rights activists and Smangus residents said the "guidelines" are far from perfect.
"The concept of Aboriginal autonomy outlined by the Aboriginal Basic Law is absent -- having to `apply' before being `allowed' to gather forestry products still puts Aborigines in an inferior position," said Lin Shu-ya (林淑雅), secretary-general of Taiwan Association for Human Rights.
Lahuy Icyeh, a Smangus resident, said that the announcement represented significant progress, but agreed that there was still room for improvement.
"We have our own traditional law regarding gathering forestry products. Requiring applications and the issuing of permits constitute repression of our traditional culture," Lahuy said in a telephone interview.
According to the guidelines, Aborigines must apply one month in advance for permission to gather forestry products.
"If someone's wounded and we need to gather herbs for medical use -- are we supposed to apply in advance too?" Lahuy asked.
Lahuy said that representatives from 20 Aboriginal communities among the two villages will meet to discuss relevant issues and present their opinions to the government.
In related news, three books on the history of the Taiwanese Aborigines were launched yesterday.
The three books, covering the Nanjhuang Incident and the migration histories of the Rukai and Bunun tribes, are the product of cooperation between the CIP and Taiwan Historica.
"In the past the most important events in Aboriginal history were never viewed from the Aboriginal point of view," Icyang told the audience at the launch of the book in Taipei.
Icyang said that the publication of the books was just the beginning.


Support for smangus: Dr. Jo An Zimmermann's letter, Melbourne Victoria University,Australia

31 May 2007

I visited the Village of Smangus with my friend, Dr. Chih-Liang Chao in the department of Tourism Management of Providence University, while on a study tour in February 2006. It was a lovely community filled with people of a generous and outgoing nature. I was very impressed by their desire to maintain their culture and their natural environment as well as their willingness to share themselves with “outsiders”.

On the drive into the community I saw numerous places where landslides had occurred and damaged or completely removed sections of the road. From my experience, landslides of that nature are generally caused by a combination of factors – recent logging activities coupled with rain looked to be the culprits in many of the places I noted. In contrast, the trails that I walked around the village seemed well cared for and were built in such a way as to minimize environmental impact.

From talking to the people, their primary concerns are maintaining their culture as well as the natural environment which has been theirs to protect for many generations. I find it very distressing that people of this nature are being harassed and traumatized in the manner shown in the papers.

Taiwan should try and learn from other countries around the world that have destroyed their indigenous culture and now regret the loss. Please stop prosecuting the people of Smangus for their traditional ways of life. Stop now while you still have an indigenous culture to learn from and appreciate.


Dr. Jo An Zimmermann, Research Associate
Institute for Community Engagement & Policy Alternatives
Victoria University
CRICOS Provider No.00124K

Room L208E, Ballarat Rd, Footscray
PO Box 14428
Melbourne VIC 8001 Australia
PHONE +61 3 9919 4018
FAX +61 3 9919 4539



You Can Do to Help Smangus With…

You can help by your countersignature either as an individual or as a group/ organization. There are two things you can help:

1 Countersignature by (individual or group) online
Countersignature by individual
Countersignature by group

2. Countersignature by fax (886-4-26530028, Attn.: Smangus Action Alliance) Please find the countersignature form below.

3. You can write a letter in support of Smangus and have it sent to any of the following government departments:

Office of the President, Taiwan
Email (please go to):
Tel: 886-2-23113731

Address: No. 122, Sec. 1, Chungking Rd., Taipei, Taiwan

Executive Yuan, Taiwan
Email (please go to):
Attn. (the Premier): Mr. Chun-Hsiung Chang
Tel: 886-2-33566500
Address: No. 1 Sec. 1, Jhongsiao E. Rd., Taipei City, 10058 Taiwan

The Forestry Bureau
Tel: 886-2-23515441
Address: No. 2, Sec. 1, Hangchou Rd., Taipei City, 10050, Taiwan

Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan, Taiwan
Email: icyang@apc.gov.tw
Attn. (the Director): Mr. Icyang Parod (Amis)
Tel: 886-2-25571600
Address: No.172, Sec. 2, Chongcing N. Rd., Datong District, Taipei City 103, Taiwan

4. You can go to http://smangus.blogspot.com/ to leave you comments to the articles without signing up or logging in. For anyone who wants to sign in, the google (gmail) account will work. If you want to post a new article, please send it to my email meadowling@gmail.com (Attn.: Yi-Ling Huang) with the author's name and affiliation. I will post it on the blog site.

5. You can go to http://atipc.homelinux.org/voices/viewforum.php?f=2&sid=212bac345a611176514939ed99e57e61 and express your opinions there for an open discussion.

6. If you are Christian, you can pray for Smanugs, who is now in a tough battle against injustice.


The First Conversation between Smangus and the Police (before P’surux Btunux)

Time: May 06 2007 (The day before P’surux Btunux, the Tayal traditional ceremony which declares territorial sovereignty. P’surux Btunux involves setting up a stone marker to make covenant)

Place: Smangus Visitor Center

Smangus villager: Batu (the Directro-Convener of Smangus Action Alliance)

Police officers: Officer Feng from Tai-Gang Police Station, and the Chief Officer of Public Order Unit, Hengshan branch, Hsin-Chu County Police Bureau

On May 6th, Smangus and the Alliance issued a press release, announcing that an ancient and sacred ceremony P’surux Btunux will be held on May 7th. . Through this ceremony, Smangus declares its rejection to improper management of the state and its determination to manage its Qyunam (traditional territory). The press release also states that Smangus will set up a registration station in its entrance. After the press release was issued, police officers phoned in and physically visited the village several times on the 6th, the day before the ceremony, to express that they were concerned the barrier installation may be inappropriate, and that they wish Smangus villagers would consider the legality of such action.
1. The Conversation in the Smangus Visitor Center
At one pm, the Alliance convener Batu and Officer Feng from Tai-Gang Police Station had a conversation. Here are the main issues Officer Feng raised:

Officer Feng: 1. If there is going to be such an activity, the Police Station would expect to be notified. 2. The Police Station is concerned about Smangus’s actions. 3. From the press release regarding the P’surux Btunux ceremony, the supervising body (the Public Order Unit of the Heng-Shang branch) considers that it is “likely” a violation of the Assembly and Parade Act.
Batu: “La? (How come?) Please explain to your supervisors, the P’surux Btunux tomorrow is a very sacred Tayal ceremony.

Officer Feng: If you insist that this activity be held, we will send many officers to express our concern should our supervisors so order.

Batu: baha la, mha mwah simu lga, nanu pkita ta qalang myan suxan! (How come? If you really think this is the way it has to be, we’ll see you tomorrow in the village.)
2. Heng-Shan branch phoned in to express their concern that the P’surux Btunux on May 7th violates the Assembly and Parade Law.

Around 9 pm on May 6th, the convener of the Alliance Batu received a phone call from the Chief Officer of the Public Order Unit in Heng-Shan branch.

Chief Officer: “I’ve looked up related statutes. Religious ceremonies and activities are not subject matters of the Assembly and Parade Law. So for the activities tomorrow, let’s say that I ‘have given you permissions’.
“But do you have banners for tomorrow’s ceremony?”
Batu: “Yeah. How could this kind of ceremony violate the Assembly and Parade Law? If Chief Officer has time tomorrow, we welcome your participation. It is a very ancient and sacred Tayal ceremony.”
Translated by Shun-Ling Chen, SJD candidate, Harvard Law School &TIPA(Taiwan Indigenous Peoples' (NGO) Alliance)

I will stand up for you, Smangus. Lokah!

Original Post: http://blog.roodo.com/duams_d/archives/3255709.html#comment-10483095

Translated by Shun-Ling Chen, SJD candidate, Harvard Law School /
TIPA(Taiwan Indigenous Peoples' (NGO) Alliance )


I, as a youth of Tayal nation, give my due respect to my fellowmen in Smangus.

After learning about the Smangus wind-fall beech event from the Internet, I inevitably felt angry. Nevertheless, because I left my village since a young age, there also rose some mixed feelings. I’ve tried to avoid recognizing it as a predicament, and I have always thought that I could overcome. My village is nothing comparable to the remote Shangri-la, the village in the deep mountains in Hsin-chu. There is a convenient highway cutting through the village, tourist sites with much prospect of money, and many inhabitants who moved in from the plain area. I’d like to say this is more developed, but I don’t know what exactly it has brought to us. The convenience which I once thought it to be turns out to be tremendous harm.

On weekends, I used to visit my village if I don’t have other obligations. The previous time I was there, I stayed in the front yard with my family after dinner. I found more firebugs in the bushes than before. That was an evening, filled with beautiful scenes. I recalled that a year ago, the firebugs I could see in the front yard were less than one-third of the number I saw in that very evening. I thought this was the magnificence of Nature, but only to find out later that the several acres of woods behind my house were completely cut off. I was told that someone from outside of the village is conducting a development something there. But that area was the habitat for firebugs.

This is my village, and it is full of contradictories, like every other villages. One day, even grass and trees will turn away from you, and you gave these all up only to grab a bunch of money bills in hand. I wonder, even if we were only standing outside to watch it happen, aren’t we also indirectly facilitating this process? I left the village where I grew up when I was in the 4th grade to study in the urban area. I went there to learn from you (Han people) the way to step upward. I had to accept what you tried to teach me. Because you made these rules, gave us preferential treatments, but at the same time made us forget who we are. Perhaps everyone will try to trace back to find who they are in their growing up, but what about those who are unable to for being blind? Blindness, as eagles that forgot how to fly, and as fish that forgot how to swim, if we still remember our pride, how could we ever forget the village where we grew up.

I am not very proficient in my own language. What’s more, whenever I enter a village of indigenous people, I feel inferior for I have left my own for long. But I do feel proud of being an indigenous.

I will stand up for you. Smangus. Lokah!!

Some people say that my village will disappear in 50 years as a result of landslide. I say I don’t want to see my village lost and disappear because of being blind.

* Lokah is a Tayal expression which is used to invigorate and inspirit.