October 4~10, 2010
PCT urges Christians to defend Aborigines’ land ownership rights
Reported by Chen Wei-chien
Written by Lydia Ma
Amis Aborigines from Fulafulak Reservation in Shanyuan Bay, near Taitung protested Taitung County’s issuance of permits for the operation and expansion of a beach resort hotel in their land without their consent despite court rulings against the development project.
This protest, which took place in front of the Presidential Palace on October 1, 2010, was co-sponsored by Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, PCT Indigenous Ministry Committee, Raging Citizens Act Now (RCAN), and other organizations. Highlights of the protest included a press conference and a protest letter delivered directly to the Presidential Palace.
The controversy began in 2004 when the county government permitted the construction of Meiliwan Resort Hotel on Shanyuan Bay. Despite several high court rulings against this building project due to environmental concerns, the county government repeatedly appealed the ruling and at the same time issued permits for the resort’s operation.
In addition, two Aborigines had their lands incorporated as part of the resort hotel without their knowledge and consent when the area was re-zoned. Hence, aside from ignoring high court rulings, the county government also completely ignored the Aboriginal Basic Act, which stipulates that Aborigines must be consulted before such a project can be started in their traditional lands.
PCT Indigenous Ministry Committee Secretary Omi Wilang said he hoped PCT could serve as a platform for more discussion on this matter and added that its participation in environmental protection issues was an important aspect of its witness for Christ. He said PCT’s participation would go a long way in touching people’s hearts and lives.
PCT Church and Society Committee Secretary Huang Che-yen underscored that Shanyuan Bay should remain a public property belonging to all Taitung residents. As a native of Taitung and a PCT official, he said the church must oppose any corporate takeover of this bay. He urged all Christians to get involved in this issue as a proof to all that their faith is indeed rooted in this land and its well-being.
“We are not anti-development. But development projects must be reasonable,” Huang said. “They must take into account local culture and ecology, as well as the human rights of Aborigines. We will continue to keep an eye on this issue.”