DHARAMSHALA, November 19 – The Spanish National Court has ordered arrest warrants to be issued against give Chinese leaders, including former President and Party Secretary Jiang Zemin, for their policies in Tibet. The ‘ground breaking’ development as the International Campaign for Tibet calls it, comes after former Chinese president Hu Jintao’s indictment for genocide last month. The court gave orders to inform Hu of the indictment and question him about his policies in Tibet through the Chinese Embassy in Madrid.
Legal experts in Spain believe the ruling is potentially as significant as the arrest of Pinochet in London in 1998 after a group of Spanish lawyers put together a lawsuit against the Chilean dictator, who presided over a 17-year reign of terror and ordered foreign assassinations.
The five Chinese leaders are Jiang Zemin, former President and Party Secretary; Li Peng, Prime Minister during the repression in Tibet in the late 1980s and early 1990s (and the crackdown in Tiananmen); Qiao Shi, former head of Chinese security and responsible for the People¹s Armed Police during the martial law period in Tibet in the late 1980s; Chen Kuiyuan, Party secretary in the Tibet Autonomous Region from 1992 to 2001 (who was known for his hardline position against Tibetan religion and culture), and Deng Delyun (also known as Peng Pelyun), minister of family planning in the 1990s.
The rulings today have positively surprised Spanish legal experts working on the Tibetan law suits upholding the principle of “universal jurisdiction” a part of international law that allows courts to reach beyond national borders in cases of torture, terror and other serious international crimes perpetrated by individuals, governments or military authorities.
Analysts also say that the ruling might dissuade the Chinese leaders to travel outside the PRC as they could be arrested for questioning on the crimes they are accused of. All the leaders face the possibility of their overseas bank accounts being frozen.
Today’s ruling was made by the appeals court (Section 4 of the Criminal Court of Spain¹s National Court, the Audiencia Nacional), which is the investigative national court for major crimes such as terrorism, drug trafficking, piracy, or money laundering.
“We wish to dedicate this judicial success not only to the victims, but also to the thousands of “freedom fighters” and to the memory of all those who self-immolated in and outside Tibet, and those who risk their lives and their freedom in the face of the passivity of the international community whose silence is an accomplice to the genocide. Their sense of justice and their determination for truth is enshrined in this judicial battle that believes in these values in a non violent manner,” said Alan Cantos of CAT last month when the court decided to indict Hu Jintao.