28 jan 2011 - Nearly 200 Amis Aborigines, representing a dozen Amis Aboriginal communities nationwide, and their supporters clashed with police last night as they tried to move toward the Presidential Office during a protest about the government’s takeover of their tribal land.
The overnight demonstration, held in front of the Presidential Office, was organized by Amis Aborigines from Hualien and Taitung counties, as well as Aboriginal rights activists, and demanded that the government apologize to them and return their land.
“A lot of Amis people are now living in cities because they’ve lost the land that their ancestors passed down to them at the hands of the government,” said Anaw Looh Pacida, an Amis from Hualien County. “Because of this situation, many of our younger generations that were born and raised in cities, away from Amis villages, are no longer able to speak the Amis language or know our culture.”
Anaw said the government’s move not only takes their tribal land, but it also leads to a crisis for Amis culture and language.
Anaw said his own village, Karowa, is one of Hualien County’s “disappeared” Aboriginal communities.
Decades ago, the land on which the village was located was taken by Taiwan Sugar Co to be used to plant sugarcane for sugar production at a large-scale sugar mill in the county’s Guagnfu Township (光復).
Later, when the sugarcane plantation closed, “the Forestry Bureau then took the land and now plans to build a recreational park on it,” Anaw said.
“As so many of us are gathered here — young and old from everywhere — we want to demand that the government give back our lands,” Anaw said, as the crowd responded with applause and cheers.
Kacaw Sabon, chieftain of Bariyalau — an Amis village located in Shoufeng Township (壽豐), Hualien County — was upset about the Veteran Affairs Commission’s takeover of their tribal lands in the 1950s after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government moved to Taiwan.
“The KMT needed land, but they didn’t bring their own from China. Instead, they robbed the lands from us after they were [defeated] in China,” Kacaw said. “It’s ridiculous that now we have to pay rent to the commission to farm on our own tribal lands — the KMT is more communist than the [Chinese] Communist Party that defeated them.”