The first Presidential debate powered by citizen media platform Peopo was held on Feb 24. Two candidates running for President answers 20 questions raised by citizens who use Youtube-like video clips to express their wishes and problems.
The form and the presentation of the debate itself is debatable, however, one interesting scenes from the debate is more ironic than anything else. When the candidates debated each other inside the film studio, many social groups including two aboriginal communities also debated with police forces outside; when Ma Yin-jeou, the candidate of KMT apologized to aborigines for his racial statement and when Frank Chang-ting Hsieh, the candiate of DPP said he also have aboriginal blood in his body, the people of the aboriginal communities protesting outside are facing forced eviction and fear caused by them and their colleagues.
Banai and husband, sitting on the ruins.
Sanying Aboriginal Community in Taipei County, like Sijeou Aboriginal Community and many aboriginal communities spotted at corners of big cities in Taiwan, is a forgotten place where many aborigines live and count on.
However, the sweet homes to these indigenous people is not only vulnerable to typhoons and thunderstorms, but also to bureaucrats'construction blue prints. Inhabitants of Sanying Aboriginal Community are the latest victims whose self-made house have been torn apart on Feb 21 by bulldozers and excavators under the order of Taipei County Government.
An old man crying in his “home”…after the destruction
Taipei Times reported from the Ground Zero:
Pan, who sat on a stool in front of her home in an attempt to block the demolition, was forcibly removed by police. A hydraulic shovel then came in, and Pan's house was demolished in less than five minutes despite Pan and her daughter's tears and pleadings. “Where am I going to stay? I don't qualify for an apartment,” Pan cried.
Bloggers and citizen journalists were at the scene when bulldozers and cranes moved to the land escorted by more than 70 polices. Torrent and other citizen reporters from Coolloud(zh) sent emergent calls for help:
Out of a sudden, the supporting groups for Sanying community had no time to motivate. Only more than a dozen people from Losheng Youth and Sijeou Self-Help came for help. However, under the fierce action of police forces, more than 10 homes of those who haven't sign the “waiver” were reduced to complete shambles at 5 pm.
According to the report, most people didn't have time to rescue their properties inside their houses, so they, most are elders, have to sleep on the bare ground without a shelter,or a pillow with the another cold current coming. Coolloud and other supporting groups had asked readers to donate sleeping bags and tents.
Taipei County Government offered limited national apartments only for people who have a household register or people who sign a waiver to abandon their shelter. The lands and mountains these aborigines once live upon were expropriated by Forestry Bureau and Taiwan Sugar Corporation. They then were forced to leave, drove away from one place to another, and now they are losing their last ground.
Bloggers and citizen journalists have build a blog call “Supporters for Sanying Aboriginal Community” to aggregate all relative reports and informations about Sanying right after the incident. They use online tools like google map and Youtube-like video services to tell netizens where is the Sanying community and the humble wishes these aborigines have in mind–to stay and to stay alive.
This video report above is the latest clip made by the video production group of “Aborigines in the City”. Besides the video part, they wrote about the irony in the case of Sanying.
Many of our modern cities and houses were built by aboriginal immigrant workers, but some of them could not afford the high cost for the lifestyle in modern cities. They can merely survive at the edge of cities. Now, the local government authorities and business units are using “city development” and “security concerns of aborigines” as excuses to treat their homelands which has been established for decades as buildings without licenses in order to look legitimate and reasonable.
Taiwan Indigenous TV (a channel belong to Public Broadcasting Service) also reported the event:
Lin A-long, the abbot of the local religious center-Shan Yun Temple, says that even Amis people who have moved to national apartments in Long En Pu still left a lot personal properties in the houses here, and because of the lack of gas provision in Long En Pu, they still come back to the original houses under the Sanying Bridge to cook and sleep. However, because of their powerless, Amis people could not stop the excavators but only to see their houses, composed by iron sheets and planks, tearing apart into ruins one by one, with their own eyes.
Another journalist Cheng Wei Ren from a community newspaper Lipao interviewed some of the Amis inhabitants in Sanying after the destruction:
The Amis people around the stove told us their wishes for living. It was simple: they don't want a top-down tribe on a high building; they want to see their neighbors and nature every time they open the doors like in the old times that they can exchange greetings and make small talks with each other, and be a part of greater nature; not like now, when corridors are the only things they see outside the door.
Coolloud also interviewed an Amis inhabitant, Banai:
So I am very angry to hear the government say that we invaded and occupied the national land, so that our houses have to be pull down. I remember that the government did the same thing when I was still a kid; they say they need to commandeer the land so they drove us away. Because the government needed the land, we must leave for a living. We are always leaving, we are driven away everywhere we are, and now they say we invaded the national land. But who is really invading? We bring each wasteland we have been to cultivation, to make it a living earth. But the government would rather build a multi-story building on the land or return the land to a wasteland to let us live on it. From Taitung to Taipei, my husband and I work and live on our own–we don't live in good condition though, but we live with dignity. If the government “put” us in the suite of the building, we will soon become landless and then jobless beggars, without dignity.
Superbird analyzes the situation the Amis in Sanying Aboriginal Communities are facing:
The County Government asked them to find a guarantor when they are ready to sign the waiver, and I don't think that has any meaning while each of them is one another's guarantor with such kind of bad economical situation. No one is going to be able to pay one another's debts on rental.
Actually, the problem is not whether the officials from the County Government abide by the law or not, but the complete thoughtless at the very beginning to search for all possible solutions comprehensively. They did not invite officials from each section, people who live there, and social groups(NPOs and social welfare groups) to explore the best way out. They also didn't consider solutions that can be put into practice at the same time, such as giving them work to pay the rental or pushing them to participate in employment counsellings offered by Job Training Department or high schools. The object is to have them a house without rental but at the same time force them to raise their ability on making a living….it seems that the Government's basic missions are only “construction” and maintain the quality of public constructions.
Social activists and cyber-activists are working together to spread out the call for help and help rebuild the house again from the ruins. However, the situation does not look optimistic at all since the officials said they will be back and finish “their job” on Feb 28, the Peace Memorial Day. How sarcastic!
Because of the hyper-heated Presidential election, the stories of Sanying are not finding a place to stay on mainstream media either. If the two candidates really care about human rights, job creation, low house price, and cultures of Taiwan's aborigines, they should visit Sanying instead of accusing each other on TV anymore.