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Taiwan's President Apologizes to Indigenous Community

FILE - Members from the Taiwan Pingpu tribe protest during International Day of the World's Indigenous People near the presidential office in Taipei.

Taiwan's president has for the first time, formally apologized to the country's indigenous people for centuries of suffering.

Tsai Ing-wen said Monday, "I apologize to the indigenous people on behalf of the government, to give our deepest apology over the suffering and injustice you endured over the past 400 years."

She said "We need to look at history seriously and speak out the truth" as a way to "step forward." The president said a justice and historical justice commission will be established to review past indignities.

Tsai spoke at a ceremony at the presidential office building on Taiwan's official aboriginal people's day. Representatives from the island's 16 officially recognized native tribes attended the event in Taipei, the capital.

The indigenous community of Taiwan is a marginalized group with many living in poverty and suffering a high rate of unemployment.

Taiwan was inhabited by a variety of tribes for thousands of years before Dutch colonizers began importing Chinese laborers in the 17th century.