Written by Yunaw Sili and Besu Piyas. The story began in 2006. That year, the Council of Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan issued a guideline stating that if Indigenous students need preferential treatment for college admission, they must pass the national Indigenous language certification test. As a result, many parents were worried that their children’s access to higher education would become more difficult. Because of this issue, we started our grassroots organising work in Hanxi Village, Datong Township of Yilan County. That was the first time we engaged and coordinated with the community people on local concerns. On April 19th, 2006, we demonstrated in front of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, fighting for our youth’s college rights.
Written by Wasiq Silan. Despite the varying colonial histories with Indigenous peoples in other parts of the world, Indigenous people in Taiwan have one disturbing issue in common: poor health. Among other indicators (such as maternal mortality, birthweight, malnutrition, obesity and so on), Indigenous peoples in Taiwan die almost a decade sooner than the general population. Why this disparity? We are taught to believe the argument that blames Indigenous peoples for their own high-risk behavioural choice, lack of awareness, low educational attainment, and dysfunctional families; closer examination shows that we need to look beyond the individual level.
Written by Kalesekes Kaciljaan (Yu-Chi, Huang) and Ta-Chun Hua.
We often see that Indigenous-focused research is excluded from major research programs with the capacity to influence policymaking, ignoring the impact of Indigenous cultural distinctiveness on health disparities. For example, in the annual statistics of health promotion in Taiwan, the authors didn’t separate most disease-related statistics, such as prevalence, incidence, and age distribution of individual diseases, of Indigenous Peoples from the general population. It has been tough to present the extent of the health differences between Indigenous People and the rest of the Taiwanese population in the absence of these essential figures. Lack of information also posed many difficulties for community health practitioners attempting to establish a health promotion plan for undersized Indigenous communities. This phenomenon occurs in Taiwan and many other countries with multiple ethnic minorities.
Written by Bonny Ling. One of the most interesting chapters in the history of modern China and international law is the vibrant and dynamic engagement of the Republican Chinese government with the League of Nations, the intergovernmental precursor to the United Nations, to address the exploitation of women for prostitution, known then as the “traffic in women.” It is an overlooked prologue that provides the historical context for efforts by successive governments on both sides of the Strait to combat exploitation. This issue remains just as relevant today as it did close to a century ago.
Written by Bonny Ling. Last year, on Human Rights Day marking the adoption of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December by the UN General Assembly, Taiwan’s executive branch of the government (Executive Yuan 行政院) released the Taiwan National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP) (臺灣企業與人權國家行動計畫). The Action Plan was celebrated, with Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) enthusiastically describing it as “aid[ing] Taiwan’s efforts to become integrated in international trade and supply chains.”
Written by Adina Zemanek and Lara Momesso. Since the early 2000s, immigrants from mainland China and Southeast Asia have been an increasingly visible component of Taiwan’s social and public landscape. As such, they have received growing recognition both in terms of legal provisions and in the public discourse. An example of this acknowledgement is the December 2019 issue of Taiwan Panorama, a promotional magazine issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Half of this issue is dedicated to highlighting migrants’ presence in Taiwan. One of the articles calls for listening to their unique life stories, which would have the transformative effect of understanding the world from a new perspective and dismantling preconceptions about Southeast Asian cultures.
Written by Elsa Sichrovsky. While government stipulations may appear to establish a strong structure of support and resources for students with a disability, the situation on the ground is often far from ideal. Most schools lack the trained staff and financial resources actually to implement IEPs for children with special needs. Many schoolteachers are already overloaded with large classroom sizes, stringent demands and requests from parents, and hosting extracurricular activities such as contests and art projects. With a child who has special needs added to the classroom comes the added stress of managing Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and attending IEP meetings with special education professionals and parents.
Written by Rose Adams. At only 20 years since its first democratic transfer of power, Taiwan’s democracy is shockingly well developed. With a voter turnout of 74.9% in 2020’s national election and a female President, Taiwan has achieved democratic feats that even the United States has yet to realize with 200-plus years of democratic experience. One of the more impressive of these records is Taiwan’s current percentage of women in government: a whopping 38% of legislative seats, one of the highest of any democracy. Compare that 38% to Japan and Korea, two of Taiwan’s neighbours who have similar electoral systems. At 10% and 17 %, respectively, of Japan and Korea’s legislature seats filled by women, Taiwan’s success is miraculous.
Written by Bonny Ling. On 28 January 2021, public prosecutors in Taichung indicted four individuals on charges of human trafficking, violations of the Employment Services Act and forgery of documents for their role in exploiting Vietnamese migrant workers in Taiwan. The four involved worked at the Hong Yu Employment Service Agency Company (弘宇人力仲介公司) in Taichung to recruit migrant workers from Vietnam. Established in 2017, Hong Yu placed 126 Vietnamese migrant workers in the construction sector around Taiwan from July 2018 to August 2020.
Written by Nguyễn Thị Thanh Hà and Isabelle Cheng. It has been more than three decades since Southeast Asian nationals began to work and establish their families in Taiwan. Men and women from the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia fill the labour shortage in construction, fishing, manufacturing, care and agricultural industries, whilst the women became members of Taiwanese society because of their marriage and family formations. This ongoing regional migration flow has enriched the socio-cultural landscape of Taiwan, where multiculturalism becomes the prevailing normative value that respects and appreciates differences. Nevertheless, this development has not been smooth or unchallenged.
Written by Chieh-chi Hsieh. When the impact of COVID-19 was at its height in Asia this April, the director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, publicly accused Taiwan of continuously attacking him with racist slurs for months. Although these accusations have been proven to be false, with the ongoing Black Live Matters campaign taking place, it does give a good opportunity to reflect on whether racism exists in Taiwan. More importantly, how this contributes to the formation of Taiwan’s identity in the contemporary epoch.
Written by Brian Hioe. Over the past four years, it has become a refrain of the Tsai administration to tout Taiwan’s increasing diversity. Namely, given increased immigration to Taiwan from Southeast Asia, one in ten children in Taiwan has a foreign parent. This is a fact that Tsai and members of her administration have taken to frequently citing, often during occasions in which Taiwan is visible on the international stage.