Tama Talum prosecution

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The Tama Talum prosecution is a controversial criminal case in Taiwan involving the prosecution of Tama Talum, a Bunun Aborigine, for possession of an illegal firearm and poaching. Talum was convicted in 2015 and sentenced to three and a half years in prison. The case sparked protests and discussion of indigenous rights in Taiwan.

2013 arrest[edit]

長鬃山羊.jpg
The Formosan serow

In July 2013 Tama Talum – also known by his Chinese name 王光祿 (pinyin: Wáng Guānglù; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Ông Kong-lo̍k) – a 54-year-old man from the Bunun tribe, went hunting in the mountains in Taitung County to obtain meat for his elderly mother. After killing a Formosan serow and a Reeve's muntjac, Talum was arrested for violation of the Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives Act as the shotgun he was carrying was not "home-made" (the act provides exceptions for Aborigines with home-made weapons).[1] He was also charged with violation of the Wildlife Conservation Act as his hunt was deemed to fall outside permitted ceremonial activities.[1] Talum did not deny the facts of the case, but maintained that his actions were not illegal.[2] Aboriginal and human rights groups protested that hunting is an integral part of Bunun culture,[1] and that Talum was being prosecuted for a "filial act" (i.e. hunting to provide meat for his elderly mother).[3]

2015 conviction and appeals[edit]

After being found guilty on both charges, Talum was sentenced to three years and two months in prison for possession of an illegal weapon, and seven months for violating the Wildlife Conservation Act. Part of the sentences were to run concurrently, so the total sentence was three years and six months.[4] He was also fined NT$70,000.[4] Community groups criticised the harshness of the sentence, and Talum was defended by a seven-person legal team from the Taitung Legal Aid Foundation, who argued that the Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives Act did not limit Aboriginal hunters to "home-made" weapons.[4]

On 15 December 2015 Talum was due to start his prison sentence. He remained at home with his mother in Haiduan, Taitung, waiting for authorities to come for him, but the local police reported that they were waiting for orders from above.[5] On the same day Prosecutor-General Yen Da-ho filed an extraordinary appeal to the Supreme Court, asserting that the original judgment in the case was itself illegal.[6] Talum remains free pending the appeal.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Aborigine Sentenced Three Years for Hunting in the Mountains, The News Lens, retrieved 2015-12-23
  2. ^ Brian Hioe, The Case of Talum and the Plight of Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan, New Bloom Magazine, retrieved 2015-12-23
  3. ^ a b Aborigine’s jail sentence to be appealed, Taipei Times, retrieved 2015-12-23
  4. ^ a b c Wang Hsiu-ning, 為母打獵將入獄 法扶搶救布農男 (in Chinese), Liberty Times, retrieved 2015-12-23
  5. ^ Shih Hung-chi, 「布農獵人,無罪」-王光祿拒絕主動入監 ("Bunun Hunter, not guilty": Wang Guang-lu Refuses to Appear at Prison) (in Chinese), United Daily News, retrieved 2015-12-23
  6. ^ Umas Suqluman, 王光祿案僅階段勝利 原團將持續監督 (Partial victory in Wang Guang-lu case, Aboriginal group will continue pressure) (in Chinese), Taiwan Indigenous Television, retrieved 2015-12-23