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China Criticizes Spanish Court's Arrest Orders for Chinese Officials

  • VOA News

Exile Tibetans carry portraits of Tibetans who have immolated themselves in Tibet protesting Chinese rule, during a street protest in Dharmsala, India, Aug.29, 2012.

Exile Tibetans carry portraits of Tibetans who have immolated themselves in Tibet protesting Chinese rule, during a street protest in Dharmsala, India, Aug.29, 2012.

China has criticized a Spanish court's decision to order the arrest of five former Chinese leaders accused of involvement in "genocidal" policies in Tibet.

At a Wednesday briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Beijing wants a "clarification" of the court decision from the Spanish government. He said that if reports of the Spanish National Court ruling are correct, China is "strongly displeased" with what it called the court's "repeated manipulation" of the Tibet issue.

Hong said the Spanish government should "change" the court decision and repair "severe damage" to China-Spain relations. He also urged Madrid to refrain from sending "wrong signals" to Tibetan forces.

In Monday's ruling, distributed to the media a day later, the Spanish National Court called for the arrest of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin and four other officials who held senior roles in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Associated Press quoted a Spanish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman as saying Madrid has no comment on China's reaction because the case is a judicial matter.

A group of Spain-based activists who support Tibetan rights initiated the "genocide" case against the five Chinese officials.

The activists filed the lawsuit in Spain under the country's universal jurisdiction system, which allows Spanish courts to prosecute alleged war crimes and genocide committed anywhere, provided the victims include Spaniards.

One of the plaintiffs is a Tibetan monk who holds Spanish citizenship, Thupten Wangchen. He responded to the Chinese statement in a phone call with VOA from Spain.

"This verdict from Spain's National Court has made the Chinese government frustrated and ashamed. The Chinese government's pressure on Spain may have some impact, but I am certain that Spanish law will stand," he said. "Since we have truth on our side, and we can prove our case, we will keep fighting until the end."

Most Spanish universal jurisdiction cases have not resulted in convictions of foreign suspects, as the suspects and their governments have refused to recognize the authority of the Spanish courts.

Many Tibetans accuse the Chinese government of repressing their religion and culture. China says Tibetans enjoy religious freedom and better living standards linked to Chinese investment in underdeveloped Tibetan regions of the country.
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