Spain’s National Court has agreed to hear an appeal by two Spanish pro-Tibetan activist groups to include China’s former President Hu Jintao in an investigation concerning potential genocide in Tibet. The Tibetan Support Committee, based in Madrid, believes that Hu Jintao engaged in actions “aimed at eliminating the uniqueness and existence of Tibet as a country, imposing martial law, carrying out forced deportations, mass sterilization campaigns, [and] torture of dissidents.”
Part of the conflict concerns the time period between 1988 and 1992, when Hu Jintao was the Communist Party leader in Tibet and used Chinese troops to silence mass protests. Additionally, in 2010, the Human Rights Watch reported that Chinese officials used excessive force in responding to the 2008 Tibetan demonstrations and later tortured demonstrators in custody in violation of international law. Tibetans have been demonstrating for independence ever since China invaded the province in 1950 and assimilated it into the PRC.
The Spanish court held it has jurisdiction to decide the case because one of the activists, Tibetan monk Thubten Wangchen, is a Spanish citizen. The issue is a Chinese matter, concerning actions on Chinese soil, but Spain’s legal system recognizes the “universal justice principle,” which allows genocide suspects to be put on trial outside their home country. However, there is a requirement that at least one victim of alleged genocide must be a Spanish citizen for Spain to hold the trial there.
China has publicly criticized and denounced the Spanish court’s indictment. In a briefing, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, stated, “[w]e firmly oppose any country or person attempting to use this issue to interfere with China’s internal affairs.” She further characterized the case as an attempt to destroy the “extremely friendly” relationship between China and Spain.
Do you agree with the “universal justice principle?” Do you think Hu Jintao can be successfully prosecuted for genocide?
Photo Credit: Time