Taipei, July 6 (CNA) Minister Sun Ta-chuan of the Cabinet-level Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) vowed Tuesday to further enhance the rights of the Pingpu plain aboriginal tribes of Taiwan.
"The era during which the existence of Pingpu tribes was ignored or even denied has come to an end, as the CIP has established a task force to take care of Pingpu-related affairs, " Sun said at a press conference.
He said that it is undeniable that Pingpu plain tribes share a common culture and history with the "mountain" indigenous tribes, but that recognizing the status of the Pingpu plain tribes should not result in any damage to the rights and interests of the indigenous tribes already officially recognized.
Jason Pan, the president of the Taiwan Association for Rights Advancement of Pingpu Plain Aborigine Peoples (TARA-Pingpu), filed a complaint with the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples on May 24, accusing Taiwan's government of refusing official recognition of the Pingpu peoples and denying their rights.
Sun said that informal sources told him that U.N Special Rapporteur James Anaya had rejected the complaint.
He added that the newly established tack force will be responsible for issues relating to identifying the Pingpu tribes and protection of their rights.
Pan said TARA-Pingpu had not received an official response from the U.N. unit, and that he planned to meet Anaya at a conference on the rights of aboriginal peoples sponsored by the office of the U..N. High Commission on Human Rights in Geneva on July 13-15.
CIP officials have said they regard Pingpu tribes as an integral part of the Polynesian tribes, even though they have yet to secure official aboriginal status. Currently, there are about 500,000 officially recognized aborigines in Taiwan, while Pingpu plain aborigines number between 300,000 and 400,000. If the definition is eased, the number of Pingpu aborigines may exceed 1 million.
The council said earlier that Pingpu aboriginal tribes in Taiwan's western plains have been gradually integrated with Han Chinese over the past 300 to 400 years.
Different governing strategies during the Qing Dynasty and Japanese colonial rule led many of their descendants to choose not to register their aboriginal status.
As a result, regulations governing aborigines under the current legal system cannot apply to them, the CIP said.
The CIP further said it has drafted a five-year plan to revive Pingpu aboriginal languages and culture. (By Tsai He-ying & Bear Lee) enditem/bc