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Tribal villages call for indigenous sovereignty with smoke signals

Tribal villages call for indigenous sovereignty with smoke signals

Taipei, Feb. 28 (CNA) More than 30 indigenous units belonging to 10 different tribes in Taiwan released traditional "smoke signals" in unison Saturday to tell the government that they are sovereign owners of their lands.
The unified action was organized by the Taitung County-based Smoke Motion Union, an indigenous rights group that held a similar protest last Feb. 28., to convey the angry voices of indigenous peoples over the government's lack of respect for their natural hunting and fishing rights on their traditional lands.
On Saturday, a fire was lit at the union's headquarters at Chulu village in Taitung County's Beinan township around noon. The fire sent dense smoke into the air, announcing the beginning of the release of smoke by indigenous Amis on Taiwan's eastern coast and other tribes residing in western Taiwan.
Aside from the sending their smoke "signals, " some tribal units also held concerts in their communities, using music and songs to urge the government to respect their natural rights and sovereignty.
In Taitung, a group of over 100 Pinuyumayan people marched along highway 26 from Nantien to Shuhai townships, protesting against the possibility of a nuclear waste depot being built on the Pinuyumayan's traditional lands in Nantien.
Smoke Motion Union spokesman Mateli Sawawan said Feb. 28 is the day when the country pays homage to victims of the 228 Incident, which inspired its designation as the Day of Peace.
However, the same justice the 228 Incident victims enjoy has never been granted to indigenous people, who Mateli said have been the target of government persecution administratively, judicially, and in the area of law-enforcement.
"Indigenous people do not sense the coming of peace, " he added.
Asked why they used smoke signals to send their message, Mateli explained that releasing smoke was the traditional way for indigenous peoples to spread warnings, especially when a tribal unit was in danger of being attacked.
(By Elizabeth Hsu)




Updated : 2021-10-19 05:18 GMT+08:00