Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

State of the World's Minorities 2008 - Taiwan

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 11 March 2008
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities 2008 - Taiwan, 11 March 2008, available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

There are 13 officially recognized indigenous peoples in Taiwan: the Ami, Atayal, Bunun, Kavalan, Paiwan, Puyuma, Rukai, Saisiyat, Tao (Yami), Taroko, Thao, Tsou and Sakizaya (the latter officially recognized as Taiwan's 13th aboriginal tribe on 17 January 2007), as well as a number of unrecognized smaller groups, some of whom continue to fight for official recognition.

The situation of Taiwan's indigenous peoples has in general been improving over the last few years. One of the main recent legal-political developments has been the drafting of a new constitution that embraces an explicit recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples. For instance, in November the Taiwan cabinet approved a bill specifying that the nation's 13 aboriginal tribes' autonomous areas should enjoy administrative status equal to that of a county, and any dispute between the autonomous regions and county governments should be referred to the cabinet for settlement. The bill still has to pass through the legislative process, however.

The Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) and Council of Agriculture jointly ruled in September that Atayal aborigines from the Smangus and Cinsbu sub-tribes in Hsinchu county are entitled to use natural resources within their traditional territories for cultural, ritual or personal purposes. The ruling is significant because it is the first time that aboriginal people's traditional territories have been recognized by the government.

The ruling also sheds light on the case of three aborigines from the Smangus tribe who were found guilty of theft in April 2007 for attempting to remove the trunk of a tree that fell in 2005, blocking the tribe's only connection with the outside world. The three defendants filed an appeal with the High Court, which was subsequently rejected; however their sentences were shortened from six months to three months and, according to reports in the Taiwan Journal, the CIP hopes that the recent ruling will persuade the court to amend its verdict to not guilty.

Taiwan Indigenous Television (TITV) was launched in July 2005 and claimed to be the first TV station in Asia fully dedicated to an indigenous population. However, in September 2007, aboriginal producers protested that most programmes broadcast on TITV are made by non-aborigines and demanded that they be given priority in producing the programmes.

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