Jiang Zemin

27.04.2016 ( Last modified: 13.06.2016 )
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facts

Jiang Zemin was born in 1926 in Yangzhou, China (PRC). In 1983, he became a member of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He continued his career within the party until he became Secretary General in 1989, until 2002. Jiang was the President of the People’s Republic of China from 1993 to 2003. He also served as the President of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2004, which allowed him to become a highly influential figure in foreign policy and national security.

In the late 1980s, Jiang, as a member of the Central Committee of the CCP contributed to discussions dealing with uprisings in Tibet, and the decisions taken by the Chinese state to deal with this situation. On 8 March 1989 the martial law was ruled by Hu Jintao and imposed to Tibetan people until 1990.

A report by the International Commission of Jurists (1997) concluded that the repression in Tibet increased in 1994, when high-ranked Chinese officials, including Shi, chose to adopt a new strategy for the country. From then, the number of Chinese migrants to Tibet increase drastically, tighter controls on religious activities were imposed, a strong smear campaign against the Dalaï Lama and his religious and political influence was lead, the surveillance was increased, as well as the number of political and arbitrary arrests, and widespread suppression of protests.

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 Deng Delyun, Chen Kuyian; Hu Jintao; Jiang Zemin; Li Peng; Ren Rong; Yin Fatang; and Qiao Shi,) 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.

Given his role as the Chinese President in control of Chinese policy on Tibet, Jiang was accused of genocide and crimes against humanity for authorising the killings which took place in Tibet, and for having promoted the massive Chinese colonization in Tibet.

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 Deng Delyun, Chen Kuyian; Hu Jintao; Jiang Zemin; Li Peng; Ren Rong; Yin Fatang; and Qiao Shi,) 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.

Given his role as the Chinese President in control of Chinese policy on Tibet, Jiang was accused of genocide and crimes against humanity for authorising the killings which took place in Tibet, and for having promoted the massive Chinese colonization in Tibet.

On 5 September 2005, this case was closed, due to insufficient links with Spain to justify applying the principle of universal jurisdiction. Following an appeal from the plaintiffs, on 10 January 2006, the Spanish Court of Appeal judged that the accusation filed against Jiang was admissible on the basis of universal jurisdiction. On 5 June 2006 the first victim testified before the Spanish National Court.

On 30 July 2008, the charges were broadened to include new cases of torture and charges of genocide. On 30 March 2011, war crimes charges were also included to the presentation of charges.

On 9 April 2009, Ismaël Moreno, judge of the Spanish National Court, called the Chinese authorities to open an investigation against Jiang and the other former Chinese leaders aimed in the complaint as perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and torture in Tibet.

Following a challenge of its competence, on 9 October 2013 the Spanish National Court confirmed its jurisdiction over the case. On 19 November 2013, the Spanish National Court issued an arrest warrant against Chen Kuyian, Deng Delyun, Jiang Zemin, Li Peng and Shi for their alleged involvement in the genocide in Tibet.

On 10 February 2014 it was confirmed that five arrest warrants were being issued.

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 Jiang and the other Chinese leaders being questioned.

spotlight

The Jiang 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.