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Kuyian Chen

31.05.2016 ( Last modified: 27.07.2020 )
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facts

From 1992 to 2001, Chen Kuyian was the first secretary for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Tibet. This post was considered to be the highest position in the autonomous region of Tibet (“Tibet Autonomous Region” or TAR) and has only been held by Chinese nationals since 1959.

Kuyian along with seven former high-ranked Chinese politicians are suspected of having committed or ordered the following crimes, committed in Tibet between 1971 and 1998:

  • Genocide (including torture, forced abortions, sterilisations and displacement of Tibetan people, along with the murder of more than a million people from Tibet)
  • Crimes against humanity (in particular religious persecutions, forced disappearances along with the murder of people from Tibet)
  • Torture (14 charges, as well as the ill-treatment of political prisoners in Drachi and Gutsa, penal institutions in Lhasa, Tibet)
  • Terrorism

On 28 June 2005, the Tibetan Support Committee (Comité de Apoyo al Tibet), the Foundation Casa del Tibetand M. 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.

legal procedure

On 28 June 2005, the Tibetan Support Committee (Comité de Apoyo al Tibet), the Foundation Casa del Tibetand M. 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.

On 5 September 2005, the case was closed, due to insufficient links with Spain to justify applying the principle of universal jurisdiction.

On 10 January 2006, Following an appeal from the plaintiffs, the Spanish Court of Appeal judged that the accusation filed against Kuyian and the others 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 Kuyian 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. Since then the Spanish courts are only competent to investigate genocide cases, crimes against humanity and war crimes 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 Kuyian and the other Chinese leaders being questioned.

 

spotlight

The Kuyian 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.

 

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