President addresses transitional justice at 2018 Austronesian Forum

2018/08/01 14:37:55 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
President addresses transitional justice at 2018 Austronesian Forum

Taipei, Aug. 1 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) believes that transitional justice is happening in Taiwan and is freeing its indigenous peoples from 400 years of suppression and disregard in society, although at a slow pace.

"Change is happening. We will stick to our goal and work harder to promote understanding between different ethnic groups," said Tsai while addressing the opening ceremony of the 2018 Austronesian Forum Wednesday.

Promoting transitional justice was one of Tsai's key political platforms during her campaign for the presidency before the 2016 election.

After being inaugurated in May 2016, Tsai's administration has organized an Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee under the Presidential Office and has prompted the establishment of a Transitional Justice Commission in May this year, based on a new law passed by the Legislature last December.

In her address, Tsai said she understands the distress of indigenous peoples resulting from 400 years of suppression and disregard, and knows such feelings cannot be smoothed down within just two years after the country began to seek transitional justice. However, she said, change is happening.

The president then addressed her expectations of the forum that Austronesian peoples should undertake more dialogue and closer cooperation with each other, and jointly cherish their languages and cultural assests.

The Austronesian Forum drew leaders of state and envoys of 13 countries and areas in Pacific region, including Taiwan, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, Nauru, Tuvalu, Palau, New Zealand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as the United States' territory of Guam and the U.S. state of Hawaii.

Marshall Islands President Hilda C. Heine and Palau Queen Bilung Gloria G. Salii attended the regional event that had not been held since 2008.

Forum sessions, to take place at National Central Library in Taipei Thursday, will focus on discussions on topics ranging from recreation of indigenous cultures to development of mother tongues.

Icyang Parod, head of Taiwan's Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP), the forum's host, said he hopes the event will help relink the long-severed Austronesian peoples' "memories of maritime history and cultures."

The Austronesian Forum, a platform for exchanges of Austronesian cultures, originated from the the Assembly of Austronesian Leaders CIP had organized since 2002 and the International Austronesian Conference, which the Cabinet-level agency had hold every year since 2003.

The conferences invite researchers in the field of Austronesian studies to discuss regional social developments, the inheritance of knowledge, education and culture, natural ecology and traditional territories and economic development, as well as tourism and cultural industries in the region.

In 2008, the forum saw its permanent headquarters set up in Palau, under Icyang's initiation, and its secretariat in Taipei. However, since that year, the forum had never been held until now, due to a ruling party change in Taiwan from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to the Kuomintang.

The DPP's Tsai announced at a national administrative meeting of indigenous peoples Aug. 1 last year that Taiwan will expand its communication and exchanges with indigenous people around the world by organizing the Austronesian Forum Aug. 1 each year.

(By Sophia Yeh and Elizabeth Hsu)

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