What do you charge us with?

April 24th, 2007

Narrated by Amin, an elder of Smangus
Translated by Hsin-Hsin Liu
Arranged by Nequo Soqluman

I am Amin, the director-general of The Association for the Development of Atayal Smangus na Kalan, and a presbrtery in church as well. I don’t have a diploma higher than elementary education. Since I was a child, I have spent all my lifetime in Smangus, running around the mountains every day. Smangus is my home, and my village, where my families, my friends live. Moreover, it is the place my children were born and brought up.

To my understanding, it is only the shared tribal conventions and values that I know and respect. I know very little about the state law. I will obey the court order if they provide credible reasons. But so far I still believe I did not do anything wrong. From the viewpoint of my community, this is a very weird situation. The event does not make any sense at all, and I really don’t understand where we went wrong. Why should I be put into jail and get fined just because I took things in my house? Our living space is compressed and we don’t have much freedom. Even the court is not on our side. I have a question, “Do we ever have a right to live?” Indeed I can not understand why it is a crime to take the wood on our own land, which has always practiced since our childhood. They (the Forestry Bureau) have chopped down all the trees in the mountains but they are not charged. Besides, we do everything with our clear conscience, and never break the natural laws, that is, in Han people’s words; we never violate the law of eco-protection. Moreover, in fact, the beech DID fall down by itself because of the typhoon. Who will have stolen it that way if they meant to? During those days, we suffered from the landslide and the blocked traffic. Our children could not make their way to school. Therefore, we had to use our excavator and clear the roads. God knows how long it would take us to wait till the Forestry Bureau comes to help! They should have paid us for all the above-mentioned work instead. So we dealt with it on our own, and put the beech, aside of the road and planned to use it for the purpose of our village image. Our community is a hot touring spot where many tourists will come. If we meant to commit a crime, we wouldn’t have bothered to lay the beech aside for more than a month, instead of taking it home while solving the road block. By the time when we decided to take it, we found nothing remained but branches. Other parts had already been taken away by the Forest Bureau. They are the thieves who showed not a tiny respect to our village. My people and I insist to defend Smangus. We are innocent. We will never admit the offence of larceny to the Forest Bureau. I believe this is our right as a human!

** Added by Amin on April 28th, 2007

God has given this land for years and many Smangus people have been born on this land. We shall not be stumbled by the sentence of the first instance this time, and shall continue to manage this traditional territory that our ancestors have left to us. I persevered with my belief and will fight for it. I will let all of our indigenous friends know hear the voice of Smangus, which is, “Defend our land, our traditional territory and the spirit of our conventions. If I admit the crime, I will lose the most essential dignity and have the spirit of my village’s conference trampled on my feet.” I give my many thanks to all the friends who care for this event. May God bless you! Please continue to keep us in your prayer. Peace to all of you!

No comments: