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Indigenous Truku protest tourist influx at Mukumugi Trail

2014/06/07 20:17:22

Taipei, June 7 (CNA) Scores of members of the indigenous Truku tribe blocked vehicles on a scenic road in the eastern county of Hualien Saturday in a protest against an influx of tourists that they say is destroying the local culture and scenery.

The protesters gathered in front of a memorial plaque to set off smoke signal and fire guns into the air to show their commitment to defending their homeland near the popular Mukumugi Ecological Trail in the eastern county's Xiulin Township.

Tongmen Village tribal council head Chung Te-kuang said that since Mukumugi was opened to tourists in 2006, more than 100 buses have brought in 3,000 visitors to the area daily.

The local population has to deal with heaps of trash and a constant stream of vehicles, not to mention the air and noise pollution they bring, Chung said.

A youth representative, known by Lagao Didi, the Chinese translation of his tribal name, led the protesters as they shouted slogans and called against letting outsiders "trample" on the land of their ancestral spirits.

He said that a tribal meeting on May 25 reached a resolution to suspend tourist activities and stop issuing entry permits to allow the ecologically sensitive area to recuperate from the onslaught of visitors.

He blasted authorities for what he called over-issuing entry permits for buses and other vehicles, saying that tourists will have to walk if they want to enter the Mukumugi area.

The locals have asked authorities to respect their resolution, threatening continued protests if it is ignored.

(By Lee Shien-feng and Lilian Wu)