24 October 2016
AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook
Geographic areas

  • > Africa
  • > Central Asia
  • > Europe
  • > Middle East
  • > Nord America
  • > North Asia
  • > South Asia
  • > South East Asia
  • > South West Asia
  • > Sud America
  • > East Asia
  •    - China
  •    - Hong Kong
  •    - Japan
  •    - Macau
  •    - North Korea
  •    - South Korea
  •    - Taiwan

  • mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato

    » 07/24/2004, 00.00


    March to defend rights of aboriginal people

    Monica Romano

    Invaluable contribution by missionaries to the promotion of indigenous cultures.

    Taipei (AsiaNews) – Human rights activists announced plans for a 3,000-person strong march today in defence of Taiwan's indigenous tribes. The protest stems from remarks uttered by vice president Annette Lu, who urged Taiwanese Aborigines to move to Latin America to let the government address local environmental problems. Her comments were made whilst visiting villages in mountain areas in central Taiwan that were hit by a recent tropical storm. Ms. Lu further angered indigenous people by suggesting that they were not the first inhabitants of the island despite their rich cultural heritage and all the evidence to their secular presence.

    "The vice president's comments are very serious and have caused divisions and hurt the indigenous community," Sister Ida Porrino, an Italian missionary belonging to the Daughters of St. Paul, told AsiaNews. The nun, who has spent 30 years in the country, went on to say that "the truth is the Aborigines are in the way and the government wants to remove them from the mountains. Every year during typhoon season the mountain areas are hit devastating entire villages. The government is then stuck with a heavy aid and reconstruction bill for communities that are widely seen as unproductive and marginal to the rest of the country. For historical and cultural reasons these communities are still victims of discrimination."

    Ms. Lu has refused to apologise arguing that her comments were twisted and blown out of portion. However, according to Lili Lee, a Taipei-based co-operator with the Pauline sisters, "the vice president has for all intents and purposes blamed the Aborigines for what happened to them, accused them of inhabiting uninhabitable areas, of being unconcerned about their lands, of growing binlan, a fruit whose reddish pulp acts as a narcotic stimulant and whose shallow roots contributes to soil erosion and landslides. The fact of the matter is that binlan is widely used by all Taiwanese and that most land destined for growing binlan are held by rich lowlanders who draw a pretty penny from it. Homes and bridges collapse because they were built with second rate materials. The fact is little investment goes to the highlands where most Aborigines live."

    "The government," Sister Ida said, "has never really cared for these people whose cultural values are based on a profound respect for life, nature, and the family. They too belong to Taiwan. There are some initiatives in favour of them such as student bursaries and loans and other types of credit but there is no overall concern that could address their needs in a comprehensive fashion. Up in the mountains, the only people who are really concerned are Catholic and Protestant missionaries."

    Many Aborigines have converted to Christianity as a result of the missionaries' evangelising activities which also include protecting and promoting local cultures. Sister Ida pointed out tat "in addition to spreading the Christian message in these communities, the missionaries have translated the Bible, the liturgy and the catechesis in local, largely oral languages thus contributing to their preservation. For their part, the Daughters of St. Paul tried to fill the gap that existed and so we taped aboriginal folk music and liturgical songs that deserve to be preserved and known."

    Aborigines represent only 2% of Taiwan's population which now stands at 22 million. They are organised into 10 tribes —Ami, Atayal, Bunun, Paiwan, Puyuma, Rukai, Shao, Saisiat, Tsou, Yami— each one with its own unique language, origins, and traits. They are mostly craftsmen involved in wood working and fabrics weaving. And like indigenous people elsewhere they have experienced ill-treatment and discrimination.

    "In the past they were segregated as a result of government policy, officially for security reasons. They were thus isolated and living under precarious conditions. They could visit the lowlands only with a police permit," Ms. Lee said. "Unfortunately, today many people are still closed-minded about the Aborigines because of the past. Japan occupied the island in 1885 and many non indigenous Taiwanese still accuse the Aborigines of having collaborated with the Japanese in the last war. Aborigines categorically deny such accusations," she said.

    e-mail this to a friend Printable version

    See also

    16/12/2004 CHINA
    No more tickets to pay for midnight mass

    30/06/2005 ITALY - ASIA
    2004 statistics for religious freedom in Asia

    Aid to Church in Need presents its annual report on freedom of worship across the world. In Asia, the situation is critical in Iraq, China, Pakistan, India and North Korea. Martino: freedom of worship is the source and synthesis of all other freedoms.

    07/09/2004 LAOS
    Violence against Christians in Vientiane and Luang Phrabang

    28/02/2014 TAIWAN - CHINA
    New missionaries: introductory courses to Taiwanese culture and church
    Missionaries need to understand the ecclesial and cultural context, not just the local language. Topics include: overcoming the culture shock, communications, university life, young people, immigrants.

    10/09/2009 PAKISTAN
    Islamic extremists threaten life of Catholic minister leading the fight against blasphemy law
    Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti confirms he was the subject of intimidations. He says however that he is ready “for any kind of sacrifice for his people”. All he wants is justice for the victims of Gojra and compensation for survivors. The National Commission for Justice and Peace continues its action to repeal the country’s blasphemy laws.

    Editor's choices

    On “Hong Kong sectors” supposedly "against Francis"

    John Mok Chit Wai

    A scholar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who collaborates with AsiaNews, responds to accusations against the agency and people in Hong Kong with respect to criticism of the Vatican’s diplomatic approach towards China. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right and a universal value, whether in China, Russia or the Middle East. Between "Right" and "Left", China defines itself as left, yet it practices state capitalism and unfettered capitalism just as "right-wing governments" do. Gaudium et Spes calls on the faithful to engage in politics against the "arbitrary domination by [. . .] a political party,” like in China.

    The "enemies" of Pope Francis

    Bernardo Cervellera

    The charge made against AsiaNews that we are against the Pope and in favor of Putin, is an opportunity to outline what motivates our commitment to evangelization. And also to ask for greater professionalism from those who write about the Pope. The Pope does not need public defenders. Facilitating dialogue between "conservatives" and "progressives" to realize the Council and concern ourselves with the world so that it encounters Jesus Christ. Christ’s “enemies” were also his "friends."


    AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.


    News feed

    Canale RSScanale RSS 

    Add to Google


    IRAN 2016 Banner

    2003 © All rights reserved - AsiaNews C.F. e P.Iva: 00889190153 - GLACOM®