Taiwan Church News
July 3 – 9, 2017
Bunun Aborigines Ask NTU Hospital To Return Their Ancestors’ Remains
Reported by Lin Yi-yin
In the afternoon on June 29, led by Rev Rumaf Manqoquo, who is the pastor of Maryuan Presbyterian Church of Bunun Presbytery, a group of Bunun aborigines of Maryuan village at Wang-rong township of Hua-lien county went to the affiliated hospital of National Taiwan University(NTU) and delivered their strongest protest toward NTU Hosptal’s appropriation of their ancestors’ remains since 1960.
This protesting event was accidentally initiated by an article, entitled as “Laboratory of physical anthropology” (written by former medical professor Tsai Hsi-quei and published by a NTU Alumini Bimonthly No 83 in 2012), mentioning about 50 dead bodies(64, as a matter of fact ) of Bunun ancestors were dug out, removed and preserved at NTU Hospital after the former NTU anatomy professor Yu Jing-chuan learned a cemetery relocation was going to be held for Maryuan village in 1960.
Many legislators, government offices and even the Indigenous Historical Justice and Transtinal Justice Committee of the Presidential Office expressed their serious concerns on this issue and requested justice to be restored back to the affected families after this event was revealed by the media.
On June 19, following a previously established practice of returning the remains of the renown indigenous hero Mona Rudo to the Seediq people, the Council of Indigenous Peoples(CIP) under the Executive Yuan officially asked NTU to return to Maryuan village those remains of Bunun forebears. Following CIP’s notification to NTU, a tribal assembly of Maryuan village people was opened and a self-helping association for bringing back these Bunun forebears’ remains was also established.
After a press conference, entitled as “Return my forebears’ remains”, held at Ketagalan Culture Center in the morning on June 29, Maryuan Village Self-helping Association angrily accused NTU’s silent removal of 64 dead bodies from Maryuan village’s cemetery without any notice as a unforgivable crime against Bunun culture and taboo.
Calling the justice to be done in time, seven requests were raised in the press conference by Maryuan Village Self-helping Association for their ancestors’ remains: the government should find out the truth; NTU shall apologize and confess their wrong-doings to Bunun people; NTU shall well preserve these Bunun forebears’ remains; the government should make up for this adminstrative mishap and build cemetery-hall and milestone to remember these Bunun forebears; the government should oversee a solemn ceremony of returning the remains from NTU to Maryuan village; holding a reconciliation service.
During an June 29 interview, though, Mr Lin Dah-der, NTU secretary general, had agree to respect those seven requests of Maryuan Village Self-helping Association and return back the remains according to a previous NTU resolutions, some unsympathetic administrative measures of NTU to restrict the protesting audience to visit those forebears’ remains still erupted a ferocious furore and emotional stand-offs.
As NTU expressed to the media that only 43 Bunun remains left in the hospital, which is quite a big difference from the initially informed number of bodies as 64, Rev Manqoquo and Maryuan Village Self-helping Association asked NTU administration to proceed a thorough investigation and deliver an detailed report for a final settlement in the future.
Translated by Peter Wolfe