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Taiwan: The future for the aboriginal people after Typhoon Morakot

Typhoon Morakot hit Taiwan Aug. 7-9, triggering the worst flooding in 50 years in southern Taiwan and leading to landslides that buried remote mountainous villages and tribal settlements. In order to speed up the post-disaster reconstruction, the Legislative Yuan passed an urgent special statute to raise a special budget on 27 of August. However, the Statue authorizes governments at all levels to impose compulsory relocation of villages or tribal settlements from areas vulnerable to floods and landslides to safer areas. For aboriginal people, the geographical location and tribal community are crucial to the preservation of their culture and tradition, many are worried that the “compulsory relocation policy” would make their more vulnerable in the future.

Home buried in mud

imagelight visited Mashia village and reported,

橋樑房屋無一倖免,全被土石流吞噬…村裡像是剛戰爭過一樣…還有二十幾名村民被埋在土石堆裡。

The bridges and buildings were all engulfed by the mudslide…The village looks like a battlefield… More than twenty people were buried in the mud.

由於道路不通,電力一直無法恢復…晚餐五點多就開始吃了,就是怕天色暗了夾不到菜…現在要清理道路,就是希望可以將山上的水果運送到山下去賣,順道帶幾部發電機回來。

Because the roads are still blocked by the mud, there is no electricity…Villagers have to eat dinner at 5pm or they have to eat in the dark after sunset…Now the residents are trying to clean the roads so that they can bring fruits to sell in the markets and bring back some electricity generators.

After the typhoon, many people from other less affected aboriginal villages bring food and generators across the mountains to these isolated villages. Judie reported,

遠從宜蘭、桃園、新竹來的泰雅族勇士(包括女性),以最簡單的提袋(ka-chi-a)綁上綿繩和塑膠水管當背包,揹著重重的民生物資,徒步越過已不成路的土石堆,進入鄒族部落。這樣的行動持續超過兩個禮拜。

The Atayal people (including women) from Yilan, Taoyuan, and Hsinzu have carried these heavy supplies with the backpacks made of simple bags, cotton ropes, and plastic tubes for two weeks. They walked across the mountains to go to the Tsou villages.

The government asks the survivors to evacuate, but many of the villagers prefer to stay in the villages. Gaea explained their reasons.

居民不願下山「是擔心政府之後就不開路,我們就回不了家」…「下了山,我們就不是『居 民』,而是『難民』。」三民國中教師葉一萱指出,原住民離開部落,幾乎不受任何法律保障。

These residents choose to stay in the village because they are worried that ‘if we have left our village, we will not be able to come back.'…'Once we have left our village, we are no longer considered as “residents”, we become “refugees.”‘ A teacher in Sanming junior high school said there isn't any law to protect aboriginal people's rights and properties once they have left their villages.

Culture and social network

In addition to material damages, the Typhoon has also destroyed aboriginal people's culture heritage. Airportman said that in Hsiaoliin village,

平埔族聚落幾乎覆滅,他們辛苦活化起來的大滿族文化、夜祭、公廨都淹沒在泥土裡。

the Siraya tribe is almost vanished; now everything is buried in the mud: the temples, the Daman tribe culture and the night ceremony the tribe tried to revive in the past few decades.

Furthermore, for the aboriginal people who have been evacuated, gaea said they will be more vulnerable.

必須面對部落分散的狀況,對原住民來說,等同另一種毀滅。

They were forced to settle in different places. Such kind of arrangement is devastating to the aboriginal people.

Village relocation and Post-Disaster Recovery Statue

Coolloud, a citizen media website, discussed about the Post-Disaster Recovery Statue《莫拉克風災重建條例》:

中央政府、縣市政府得就災區安全堪慮或違法濫建之土地,劃定特定區域,限制居住或限期強迫遷居、遷村。金惠雯批評,此條文無限擴張政府權力,完全沒有原住民參與遷村決策的機制。

The central and county government have power to decide on the land use policy in the disaster zone. They can evacuate residents by force or move the whole village to another region. Hui-Wen Jin criticized that the regulation had given the governments with unlimited power and excluded the aboriginal people from decision making process.

gaea reported that before the Post-Disaster Recovery Statue was passed

災區部落的代表與民間社團前往立院靜坐抗議…要求「強制遷村」應拿掉,以及「應取得部落同意」的訴求。

Representatives of the survivors and some civil associations protested in front of the Legislation Yuan…they asked to the legislation body to replace the principle of ‘forced village relocation’ with ‘village relocation with consensus.’

coolloud discussed the possibility of reaching a consensus:

金惠雯說,遷村議題一定要回到原住民「傳統領域」的概念,讓原住民保有傳統領域,再由原民住他們選擇安居適合的遷村地址。

Hui-Wen Jin said, the discussion about village relocation should be based on the concept of ‘traditional territory’ according to aboriginal culture. The aboriginal people should enjoy their rights to claim their traditional territory and decide on their settlement plan.

The government has a mortgage plan for the survivors, but kikisweets said there are still many problems for the survivors to rebuild their home.

貸款的申請期限僅僅只有一年,意味著在一年內必須要決定該在哪居住。部落的族人依舊希望能夠返回家鄉居住,然而面對消失的土地以及外界專業學者的建議,原地重建的機會渺茫,不得不向外另尋住所…嘉蘭真正需要的是實際的經濟援助,以及未來安置上的專業規劃與建議,家園失去了,族人之間的聯繫與文化是不能失去的。

The deadline for applying this mortgage is one year from now, which means the survivors have to make decision on where they want to settle within this year. Even though the aboriginal people do not want to be displaced, some of the tribes have been buried in the mud and according to experts’ opinion, it is impossible for them to move back. It is inevitable that they have to settle elsewhere.…What Chialan tribe needs is financial support and professional advice on future relocation of the tribe. They have already lost their homeland, they cannot lose their culture and relation among members of the tribe.

時間一天天的過去,族人們究竟該何去何從?

Day by day, time passes by. What will be the future of the aboriginals?

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