Hu Jintao

09.05.2016 ( Last modified: 07.06.2016 )
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facts

Hu Jintao was born on 21 December 1942, in Jiangyan, a town located in the Chinese Province of Jiangsu. He studied hydraulic engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1964.

Whilst working as an engineer, Jintao led a dazzling political career at the head of the CCP. In 1980, the secretary of the Gansu committee named Jintao deputy head of the Regional Commission. In 1982, he was promoted to the role of Secretary of Gansu’s Youth League, and was appointed as the leader of the Young Persons’ Federation of China. He then moved to Beijing to study at the CCP’s main school, before becoming head of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League. In 1985, Jintao was sent to Guizhou, China, where he became Secretary of the CCP’s provincial committee.

In 1988, Jintao was named Secretary of the Communist Party of China Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee, in a context drenched in conflict, given that the region was then in the midst of a full struggle for independence, against the Chinese Central Government. Although the protests began in 1987, the intensification of the violence took place in March 1988 – harshly supressed by Jintao whilst he was the spokesperson of the CCP for Tibet. The repression peaked in February 1989, when Jintao ordered the deployment of 1700 People’s Armed Police officers in Lhassa, the capital of Tibet. These same police officers were accused of an excessive use of force against the population. On 8 March 1989, Jintao asked Beijing to declare martial law in Tibet, which the Tibetan people were subjected to until 1990.

In June 1990, Jintao returned to Beijing, aiming to integrate the central power of the CCP, gradually acquiring the responsibilities of First Secretary of the CCP between 1992 and 2003, then Secretary General of the CCP between 2002 and 2013, and finally the role of the Chinese Head of State between 14 March 2003 and 15 March 2013.

During his mandate as President, he was the subject of considerable criticism from Human Rights organisations for his involvement in the repression of Tibetan protestors between 1988 and 1990; for preventing Chinese man Liu Xiaobo from travelling with his family in Oslo, Norway, where he was to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 he was awarded. President Jintao vehemently protested against the Norwegian Government’s decision to give the Nobel Price to Liu; Norway replied that the Nobel Prize Committee was independent of any government. Chinese activists who welcomed Liu’s Nobel Peace Prize were placed under arrest by Jintao.

On 28 June 2005, the Tibetan Support Committee (Comité de Apoyo al Tibet), the Foundation “House of Tibet” (Fundacion Casa del Tibet) and Thubten Wangchen, a Tibetan in exile, filed a criminal complaint against eight defendants (including Kuyian,Deng Delyun; Hu Jintao, former secretary of the CCP for the autonomous region of Tibet from 1988 to 1992; Jiang Zemin, former President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from 1993 to 2003, former Secretary General of the CCP from 1989 to 2002, President of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2004; Li Peng, former Chinese Prime Minister from 1987 to 1998; Ren Rong, Secretary of the CCP from 1971 to 1980; Yin Fatang, Secretary of the CCP from 1980 to 1985; Qiao Shi, Head of the International Liaison Department in China, Head of the Central Committee, member of the permanent Politburo committee, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in China) before the Spanish National Court (Audiencia Nacional) on the basis of the principle of universal jurisdiction for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, torture and terrorism, committed against Tibetans in the late 1980s and 1990s.

legal procedure

On 28 June 2005, the Tibetan Support Committee (Comité de Apoyo al Tibet), the Foundation “House of Tibet” (Fundacion Casa del Tibet) and Thubten Wangchen, a Tibetan in exile, filed a criminal complaint against eight defendants (including Kuyian,Deng Delyun; Hu Jintao, former secretary of the CCP for the autonomous region of Tibet from 1988 to 1992; Jiang Zemin, former President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from 1993 to 2003, former Secretary General of the CCP from 1989 to 2002, President of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2004; Li Peng, former Chinese Prime Minister from 1987 to 1998; Ren Rong, Secretary of the CCP from 1971 to 1980; Yin Fatang, Secretary of the CCP from 1980 to 1985; Qiao Shi, Head of the International Liaison Department in China, Head of the Central Committee, member of the permanent Politburo committee, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in China) before the Spanish National Court (Audiencia Nacional) on the basis of the principle of universal jurisdiction for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, torture and terrorism, committed against Tibetans in the late 1980s and 1990s.

On 11 October 2013, the National Spanish Court agreed to extend these charges to Jintao, due to the end of his presidential mandate, and thus, the end of his is presidential immunity. Jintao was officially charged with genocide by the Spanish National Court in October 2013.

According to the Criminal Chamber of the Spanish National Court, Jintao, as the leader of the CCP, lead a repressive policy against the Tibetan people, characterised by massive swathes of sterilizations and tortures of dissidents during protests between 1987 and 1990. The Chamber charged him as the instigator of the genocide against the Tibetan people, considering the actions of the Chinese Government was aimed at “eliminating idiosyncrasies, and the existence of the country through the use of marital law”.

After a challenge of its jurisdiction, the National Spanish Court confirmed that it was indeed competent over the case on 9 October 2013.

However, on 13 March 2014, Spain adopted a new law restricting its universal jurisdiction. From now on the Spanish courts are competent to investigate genocide cases, crimes against humanity and war crimes only in three situations: when the suspect is a Spanish citizen; when the suspect is a foreigner but resides habitually in Spain; or if the suspect is a foreigner, present in Spain and whom Spain will not extradite.  Nevertheless these new conditions for exercising universal jurisdiction by the Spanish courts do not apply to crimes of terrorism or related crimes.

As a result, on 23 June 2014 the Spanish National Court rejected these claims. It was considered that in respect of the new law on universal jurisdiction, the Spanish authorities were not able to investigate or judge the crimes committed in Tibet.

On 18 September 2014, the plaintiff and his co-plaintiffs appealed this decision.

On 22 April 2015, the Spanish Supreme Court confirmed the Spanish High Court’s decision to reject the claims, putting an end to the judicial pursuits against Jintao and the other Chinese leaders being questioned.

spotlight

The Hu Jintao case is part of the eight first complaints filed against former Chinese politicians regarding the crimes committed in Tibet.

context

On 1st October 1949, Mao Tse-tung proclaimed the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. Soon after, the following year, the newly created Republic invaded Tibet.

In 1951, a seventeen point treaty established the sovereignty of China over Tibet. During the following decades several uprisings took place and were brutally repressed by the Chinese authorities.

In March 1959, a Tibetan insurrection was bloodily crushed by the Chinese troops. It was at this time that the Dalai Lama went into exile in India. According to certain sources, this massacre led to the death of some 87 000 Tibetans and to the exile of 80 000 of them to India, Nepal and Bhutan.

At that point, China set up a wide ranging ethnic cleansing policy by imposing the Chinese Communist regime on the Tibetan people: traditional Tibetan social structures were disbanded, religious practice was curtailed and Tibetan Buddhism was oppressed.

According to a Spanish based Tibetan Support Group (Comite de Apoyo al Tibet), a million Tibetans are said to have been assassinated or displaced since 1950 and more than 90% of cultural and religious institutions reportedly destroyed: Tibetan monasteries have been set upon and shrines destroyed. Those who refused to adopt Chinese communist ideology were killed. Chinese farmworkers were transferred to Tibet. Tibetan fiscal policy and social structures were restructured in line with Chinese systems.

Between 1966 and 1969, the Cultural Revolution activated by Mao Tse-tung spread to Tibet, bringing with it its share of destruction and persecution: Tibetan temples were looted and destroyed, and religious adherents were beaten, tortured, raped and killed in public.

The Development Plan for Western China, launched on 17 June 1999, was dubbed the “second invasion of Tibet”. It forced the Tibetan nomads to settle down in urban areas where they were no longer able to make a living through their traditional means of subsistence. Moreover the massive Chinese migration to Tibet driven by the Chinese authorities, transformed these Tibetans into an ethnic minority. The objective of the Chinese policy in Tibet was therefore aimed at assimilating the Tibetans and their ancestral culture into the Chinese social, political and economic model.

In Tibet, even today, there still exists persecution and restriction of religious beliefs and practices. Possession and distribution of images of the Dalai Lama are strictly prohibited and violence against Tibetan monks and nuns take place daily.