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CIP Minister Icyang Parod Attends the Constitutional Court in Person for Oral Argument

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  • Modification Time: 2021/04/20 11:31:42
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March 9, 2021—The Judicial Yuan’s Grand Justices convened today for the oral argument of the constitutional interpretation request involving Indigenous hunters Mr. Talum Suqluman (Chinese name: Wang Kuang-lu) and Mr. Pan Chih-chiang. Mr. Icyang Parod, Minister of the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP), appeared in court to deliver the CIP’s statement of opinion.

“This is the first case involving Indigenous peoples’ rights at the Constitutional Court, and I am here in person to defend our rights as should be protected under the Constitution,” said Mr. Icyang.

At the start of the oral argument, Mr. Icyang delivered the official CIP statement, which is included below in full:

Arayhan no mako to pasa’opo^ no huing to sakalalicay to sasowalen, tadaka’irayan a matahidangko Yin-min-hwey a mipaini to nafaloco’an.

First of all, it is the CIP’s belief that the Constitution contains clear stipulations that the cultural rights of the Indigenous peoples shall be protected, which of course, entails Indigenous hunting culture. By nature, Indigenous peoples’ rights to hunt are not limited to “an Indigenous community” but should extend to the individual level as well.

During the 1995 and 1997 constitutional amendment movements, I myself, along with many other like-minded proponents, advocated the inclusion of Indigenous peoples’ rights in the Constitution as fundamental rights. In response, the National Assembly included clear stipulations on the protection of such rights under Article 10, Paragraphs 11–12 of the Additional Articles of the Constitution. In particular, protection of indigenous peoples’ cultural rights, as defined by the Constitution, saw implementation with the ratification of the Education Act for Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous Peoples Basic Law by the Legislative Yuan in 1998 and 2005 respectively.

The CIP understands “Indigenous hunting culture” as an important element with great cultural significance inseparable from the education-culture-knowledge system that comprises Indigenous languages, rites, festivals, religions, and hunting organizations. As such, hunting is practiced, whether by an entire community or an individual with Indigenous heritage, as a continuation and realization of their culture—causes that have already received protection at the constitutional level.

According to a survey commissioned by the CIP and carried out by scholars, the consensus among Indigenous elders and hunters across different ethnic groups is that the core value of Indigenous hunting culture is sustainability and ecological balance. Therefore, hunting activities carried out in accordance with traditional Indigenous norms will inevitably help protect the environment and strike an ecological balance.

The CIP and the Forest Bureau, Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan started the Autonomous Indigenous Hunting Management Project in 2018. We learned from the project that, when the government is willing to assist in the revitalization of Indigenous hunting traditions, not only can we better utilize wildlife resources in a sustainable manner and help the continuation of traditional Indigenous cultures, but through these hunting activities, Indigenous hunters can help the government perform important environmental protection tasks, such as species monitoring and ecological survey. Indeed, Indigenous hunting culture practiced within the bounds of traditional norms does not conflict with environmental protection at all; instead, they are an active way of safeguarding the environment and ecology.

The hunting tools used by the Indigenous peoples have been constantly evolving throughout the millennia, as have many other aspects of our lives. According to historical documents, Indigenous hunters began switching from self-made knives, spears, and bows and arrows to firearms acquired via trade in the 18th century. However, despite the many regulatory amendments, Indigenous hunters are still only allowed to use the so-called “self-made shotguns” as their hunting tool according to law.

From a constitutional point of view, the nation has the duty to protect diverse cultures, which includes ensuring the continuous development of Indigenous cultures. As such, the CIP calls for the government to fulfill the promises it made in the Act to Implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and allow Indigenous hunters to use guns that are safe and technologically advanced.

Prior to the conclusion of the oral argument, Mr. Icyang was asked to give a final statement of opinion, which is included below in full:

Today, we gather here not just to discuss the personal rights of Mr. Talum Suqluman, Mr. Pan Chih-chiang, and Mr. Huang Chia-hua. We are here to remind Your Honors that the decision made in this Court today will have far-reaching influence on every Indigenous policy made from now on. Indigenous advocates have fought long and hard for the inclusion of Indigenous rights in the Constitution. This was how provisions regarding Indigenous rights under Article 10 of the Additional Articles of the Constitution came to be ratified by the National Assembly. But those very rights are hanging on Your Honors’ decision today.

Therefore, I implore Your Honors to consider the majority opinion given by the competent authorities, amici curiae, and experts present today, which is in agreement with Article 10, Paragraphs 11–12 of the Additional Articles of the Constitution. The inclusion of Indigenous rights is the missing puzzle piece that can complete the nations’ basic human rights system.

Almost all competent authorities, amici curiae, and experts present today acknowledge that Indigenous hunting culture contains rich cultural elements.

An Indigenous hunter who is familiar with hunting culture and follows hunting traditions must also be aware of the cultural significance of the teachings, beliefs, and norms of their community. Such a hunter will no doubt use any hunting tools with care and prudence in accordance with tradition. From the perspective of diverse cultures, Indigenous cultures development, and Indigenous heritage preservation, the protection of which have been ratified in the Constitution, the dignity of such a hunter shall and ought to be protected under the nation’s rule of law.

We can see from the oral argument, written opinions, and research findings presented to the Court that traditional Indigenous hunting is a knowledge system of significant proportions. To put it simply, it encompasses the ecological wisdom that enables the individual, the community, and the environment to prosper in harmony.

Similar views are expressed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Convention on Biological Diversity, which also repeatedly acknowledge the contribution and value of traditional Indigenous knowledge in maintaining bio-diversity. Contrary to popular belief, hunting culture and wildlife preservation are not mutually exclusive; rather, the former is conducive to the latter, and both concepts can coexist peacefully.

It is the CIP’s belief that the Indigenous peoples “maintain tribal order by observing the traditions and sustain the ecological balance with conventional wisdom”. Your Honors have issued many breakthrough interpretations for human rights protection in the nation, and we sincerely hope that Your Honors’ decision today can serve as a milestone moment in Indigenous people’s journey to historical and transformative justice.