The Site and History of the Event

Seated on the 1,500 km high Mount Smangus in Jian-Shih Township, Hsin-Chu County, Taiwan, Smangus may be said to be the most remote indigenous village of Taiwan. No electricity was available until 1979, and no opening road was ever built until the end of 1995. Before the construction of the opening roads, the inhabitants had to go on foot for several hours to Hsin-Kuang village that was across the valley to get contact with the outside world and to get the grocery. However, the discovery of the giant tree and the construction of the roads solved the problem and started to attract tourists.

The beech buried in the landslide caused by Typhoon Haitang, Sept. 2nd, 2005

One day after the severe typhoon left Taiwan.

Seeing that there were landslides and damages all over the place, the Smangus crew conducted road repairs the day after the typhoon ended.

During the process of the repair, the inhabitants budged the beech to the roadside without any assistance of the Forestry Bureau. Over a month later (on October 12th, 2005), they were shocked to discover that some parts of the main trunk had been sawn and taken away, leaving the tree roots and the remains of the tree crown. The Smangus people complained that whoever had taken the trunk of the tree had not given any notice to the tribe at all was in violation of Taiwan’s “Aboriginal Basic Law”. The inhabitants carried the remains of the tree back to the tribe. The Forestry Bureau subsequently charged them with stealing forest by-products.

"Our community holds a meeting to discuss the village issues every day."

The landlords (we, the Smangus people) took the wind-fallen wood into our home village but were accused by the Forestry Bureau, which said that we had smuggled the timber while they were understaffed. They neglected to acknowledge that it was right and proper for us to use wind-fallen timber in our own home village as has been practiced for thousands of years.
Why must the indigenous people apply to the related government departments when we take any of the wild vegetables and or dead wood? Some of the government departments, such as the Forestry Bureau, the Police, and the Judicial Yuan, work together to persecute Smangus under the name of the state. Please find the adjudication of the first instance made by Taiwan Hsin-Chu District Court as the following: The penalty shall be 6 months of imprisonment, the fine of NT$160, 000 for each person, and suspension of punishment for two years. (The village has received the verdict on April 26th, 2007) What on earth is the government doing?

Arr. by Ruei-Ling Chen
Trans. by Yi-Ling Huang

No comments: