Taipei, Taiwan – Taiwanese citizens are awaiting a tougher decision from the island’s highest court on Friday, which will determine the extent of their right to hunt and open the door to smuggling small arms into the island after using the law in the early 1980s.
The trial began eight years ago in 2013 with the cases of Hunun Indigenous Hunter Talum Suqluman (Wang Kuang-lu) under the protection of wildlife conservation laws.
He was initially sentenced to three and a half years in prison after being found guilty of using a “modified shotgun” to kill two protected animals, although the term was suspended in 2017 following an international outcry.
But the hunter continued to challenge his decision – represented by the Taiwanese Legal Aid Foundation.
Earlier this year, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court heard from a number of plaintiffs that if the island’s wildlife laws prohibit the rights of Indian citizens who say hunting is a necessary tradition and is allowed to engage in small-scale hunting.
On Friday afternoon, the Supreme Court ruled that Indian hunters should not be allowed to use artificial firearms and hunting traps, and that they would need to apply for a permit from the government before preparing for hunting.
Taiwan’s Legal Aid Foundation told Al Jazeera that the rules were invalid and violated cultural norms protected under the island’s Indigenous Peoples Act.
“The wildlife protection law regulates hunters who have to register and specify how many species and species they have already hunted, which violates the traditional laws that bless ancestral spirits so one should not brag and show otherwise one will be punished by God,” he said. Legal Center of Indigenous Peoples.
“Also, we are just amazed at the unexpected places such as forests where one can see the prey for hunting.”
Taiwan identifies 16 groups of Indians whose ancestors lived on the island thousands of years before the first Han tribe came from northern China in the 17th century and the government of the Republic of China established the island in 1949.
“Hunting is an important part of our culture,” said Baubu Caljas, a Paiwan-based game hunter who leads a group of Indian youths in southern Taiwan. “Offerings of animals are often a part of our religious rituals, such as funerals, festivals, and prayers.
“I think it is wrong to ask the government for a ‘legal right’ to hunt. The program of [Republic of China] the government took over our country decades ago. We, the citizens of India, have lived on the island and lived our lives for many years. Did the government ask for “freedom” to rule us when it came to power? “
Taiwan’s Ministry of Agriculture has stated its intention to restrict restitution from Taiwan, where species have been hunted to extinction.
For 300 years animals, including muntjac deer and monkeys have been hunted for their fur, which is mainly exported.
The main hunt was stopped by the early 1970s, during the legal period on the island, but it continued to decline for the supply of game, especially among the Han Taiwanese tribes, according to wildlife expert Kurtis Pei.
It was not until 1989 that the Wildlife Conservation Act was officially registered for commercial purposes. From then on, the monkeys, muntjac and sambar deer began to recover, according to Pei.
Natural hunting, in contrast to commercial hunting, occurs only in the diet or in the prevention of predation and does not prevent the extinction of the species.
“What the outsiders don’t understand I think we kill indiscriminately, whatever we see,” said Silan Oyon, an Amis-Atayal hunter who trains a hunting team in Wulai, a New Taipei City suburb known for its hot springs and scenic mountain scenery. .
“Hunting is not a matter of deception. We follow the weather, alternating between mountains and rivers. The Chinese (from China) think we live all day, every day, hunting. ”
With more and more animals in the last 20 years, Baubu says less is needed to keep the ecosystem viable.
“For those of us who live close to the mountains, it is clear that the numbers of wildlife are slowing down. Without the existing animals, the numbers are increasing rapidly and the number of crops is declining, ”he said.
“Now you have muntjacs down the valley, screaming at night in the area. With the gradual decay of vegetation, we are seeing an increase in landslides in recent years. On the other hand, you have a decrease in hunting activity due to the loss of culture. I think it’s hard to see that natural hunting affects only a small portion of wildlife. ”
In contrast to the Taiwanese system used here, traditional hunters and experts say they can choose a hunting management system that gives locals the ability to direct and monitor hunting activities.
“The important thing is to create a place where hunters in each area can manage their own hunting grounds. They are already doing so, but it would be great if there was an incentive to do so, “said Scott Simon, co-chair of the Taiwan Study chair at the University of Ottawa, Canada, who for several years lived in cultural areas in southern and eastern Taiwan.
Some middlemen have already seen the results.
Pei, who is also a professor at Pingtung University of Science and Technology in Taiwan, has worked with research organizations as part of his research. The cultural areas within the Alishan mountain town of Taiwan, meanwhile, have been working closely with the Forestry Bureau, according to Babua, who says he hopes to see the hunt monitored through a number of alliances.
One sticky spot, however, is the equipment.
Currently, hunters use self-propelled guns, which are often made from tools such as modified shotguns or machine guns that require hunters to add guns to shoot any shotgun, according to media in Taiwan.
But he said such weapons were dangerous and dangerous because they could shoot or maim an animal with a horrible death.
“[Ethnic] Han people sometimes encounter dead animals in the mountains left for dead and share a picture, he says [Indigenous] people are killing on purpose, ”said Silan. “Basically, it’s because our guns aren’t so good, not like those of foreign hunters, a working animal that can run for a while after being shot. It can take several guns to kill, which is very cruel. ”
Out of concern, the Interior Ministry has said it would consider allowing hunters to buy guns, according to Taiwanese journalists.
Had the change been lifted, the Taiwanese government would have had the opportunity to increase gun rights, albeit slightly, while many areas have tried to curb them.
Most civilians are not allowed to own a firearm, including firearms, ammunition and firearms according to Taiwan law. After Indian hunters, only fishermen can register a permit to own a harpoon rifle.
The Legal Center of Indigenous Peoples says the decision of the Supreme Court on Friday could override gun rights and have significant implications for the fight for human rights in Taiwan.
Although territories are protected by a number of laws, they do not have the same protections as Canada First Nations or New Zealand Maori.
The leadership of President Tsai Ing-wen, the first leader to have Indian parents, has shown interest in expanding the rights of the Indians.
Workers hope that a favorable ruling in the area will improve.