Joint Members’ Statement, 19 December 2013

Tibet campaigners deeply concerned about Spanish government threats to close down Tibet lawsuits.

Decisions by Spain’s independent judiciary to indict and order arrest warrants for former Chinese leaders have angered China.

Alan Cantos, Comité de Apoyo al Tíbet, email
Wangchuk Shakabpa, International Tibet Network Steering Committee and Tibet Justice Centre, + 1 212-481-3569 or Alison Reynolds, International Tibet Network Secretariat, + 44 7711 843884

The International Tibet Network [1] is deeply concerned about reports that Mariano Rajoy´s Spanish government is intending to limit the independence of Spain’s judiciary, in a clearly political move to close down a ground-breaking Tibet lawsuit that implicates Chinese leaders. On 15 December El Pais, quoting Spanish Justice Ministry sources, reported that changes to Spain’s Organic Act of the Judicial Power may be presented as early as January [2]. In recent weeks there have been a number of significant developments in the Tibet lawsuit, to which China has responded with anger; on 9 October 2013, Spain’s Audiencia Nacional (National Court) indicted Chinese former President and Party Secretary Hu Jintao for genocide and other grave crimes in Tibet, and on 18 November 2013, judges ordered that warrants of arrest be issued against five Chinese leaders, including another former President and Party Secretary, Jiang Zemin [3].

“We condemn the Spanish government for any attempt to override Spain’s universal duty to prevent and punish the most egregious human rights violations in Tibet, as offenses against all humanity” said Alan Cantos, of Madrid-based Comité de Apoyo al Tíbet, which filed the lawsuit [4]. “It is unacceptable for China to attempt to exert strong-arm political pressure against an impartial criminal investigation that is a matter of Spain’s judicial sovereignty, and we urge the Spanish government to stand firm.”

The indictment of Hu Jintao relates both to the period he was Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region (1988 – 1992), when he presided over martial law in 1989, and his responsibility for Tibet policy as Party Secretary and President of China (2002/03 – 2012/13) “due to being the highest ranking person in both the Party and the Government”. Hu Jintao lost immunity when he stepped down as China’s President in March 2013. The final two years of Hu’s Presidency were marked by a wave of self-immolations in Tibet, which have continued throughout the first year of China’s new leadership, despite an increasingly harsh crackdown. At least 125 Tibetans have now self-immolated in occupied Tibet, including Tsultrim Gyatso, a monk from Tsoe, eastern Tibet, who died earlier today.

China has reacted angrily to the Tibet lawsuit. On 17 October Zhu Weiqun, a senior Communist Party official, said “This is ridiculous. Anyone thinking in this way brings humiliation to himself and if courts of any country accept the accusation, they are bringing disgrace to themselves as well. Pursuing a lawsuit against China shows nothing but the weakening of some countries nowadays. It does not surprise me if this malicious prosecution was plotted by the Dalai clique. If any country accepted the lawsuit, it would only be faced with a terrible embarrassment. I would like to use a cliché of Chinese people, “Come if you are bold enough.”[5]

Wangchuk Shakabpa, a member of the International Tibet Network Steering Committee and Board Member of Tibet Justice Center said, “We urge the Spanish people and government to stand fast for the democratic principle of judicial independence from political interference, and to support the internationally recognized human rights standards that these Tibet lawsuits are investigating. Such cases should be based on the strength of evidence and a commitment to serving justice, not the political power of the perpetrator.  It is an affront to Spain’s judicial sovereignty, to the victims, and to universal principles of human rights that the Spanish government is considering surrendering to Beijing’s political pressure.”

Experts have already begun to express their outrage in Spain. Court lawyer Manuel Ollé said: “the government wants to make himself plaintiff, prosecutor and judge and that is how democracy ends”. Ollé was referring to the news that proposed legal changes would mean that the Spanish government could invoke reasons of “general interest” to prevent judges from investigating crimes of genocide committed abroad. Anchorman Carles Francino, who was interviewing Ollé on his radio programme La Ventana (Cadena Ser), said: “(This) adds to the general hypocrisy of all the speeches about human rights that they have been delivering only days ago during the funerals of Nelson Mandela.” [6]


  1. International Tibet Network is a global coalition of 190 Tibet-related campaign groups
  2. An english translation of this article, provided by Comité de Apoyo al Tíbet (CAT) is available here
  3. See RFA, 11 October, and Washington Post, 19 November:
  4. Spain’s National Court is dealing with two criminal lawsuits brought by CAT, filed in 2005 and 2008. The later lawsuit is currently suspended and on appeal at the Spanish Constitutional Court, due to a disputed reform in the law to limit retroactively the application of Universal Jurisdiction, by invoking the need of a “national connection” and Spanish victim(s).
  5. See
  6. This interview is available (in Spanish) via


Signed on behalf of the following International Tibet Network Member Groups:

Western Europe:
Aide aux Refugies Tibetains
Association Dorje
Association Drôme Ardèche-Tibet
Association Rencontres Tibetaines – C.S.P.T. Midi-Pyrenees
Associazione Italia-Tibet
Austrian Committee for Tibet
Briancon05 Urgence Tibet
Caisse d’Aide aux Prisonniers Tibetains
Casa del Tibet – Spain
Comite de Apoyo al Tibet (CAT)
Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain (Les Lilas)
Corse – Tibet
Eco-Tibet France
EcoTibet Ireland
Free Tibet
Groupe Non-Violent Louis Lecoin, France
Grupo de Apoio ao Tibete, Portugal
International Society of Human Rights, Munich Chapter (IGFM)
Jamtse Thundel Association
La Porte du Tibet, Geneva
Les Amis du Tibet – Belgium
Les Amis du Tibet Luxembourg
Lions Des Neiges Mont Blance, France
Maison des Himalayas
Maison du Tibet – Tibet Info
Nice Tibet
Nos Amis de l’Himalaya
Objectif Tibet
Passeport Tibetain
Phagma Drolma-Arya Tara
Reseau International des Femmes pour le Tibet
Save Tibet, Austria
Society for Threatened Peoples International
Solidarite Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet – France
Students for a Free Tibet – UK
Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association (GSTF)
Tibet 59 / 62
Tibet Democratie
Tibet Initiative Deutschland
Tibets Kinder im Exile V.
Tibet Liberte Solidarite
Tibet Libertes, France
Tibet Society, U.K.
Tibet Support Group – Ireland
Tibet Support Group – Netherlands
Tibet Unterstutzung Liechtenstein
Tibetan Association of Germany
Tibetan Community Austria
Tibetan Community in Britain
Tibetan Community in Ireland
Tibetan Youth Association in Europe
Tibetan Youth UK
TSG Free Tibet And You
Tsowa-Maintenir la Vie, France
Vrienden Van Tibet
Autodétermination-Tibet 09/31
Tibetan Community of Italy
Tibetaanse-Vlaamse Vriendenkring vzw
Lungta Association Belgium

Northern Europe:
Association of Free Tibet
Friends of Tibet in Finland
Swedish Tibet Committee
The Norwegian Tibet Committee
Tibet Support Committee Denmark
Tibetan Community in Denmark
Tibetan Community Sweden
SFT Denmark

Central & Eastern Europe:
Fair Society o.s.
Friends of Tibet Slovakia
Friends of Tibet Society St. Petersburg, Russia
International Youth Human Rights Group – Human Rights in Tibet
Lithuanian Tibet Culture Foundation
Polish Movement for a Free Tibet
Savet Tibet Foundation
Society for Croatia-Tibet Friendship
Students for a Free Tibet, Poland
The Foundation for Civil Society, Russia
Tibet cesky (Tibet in Czech)
Tibet Support Association – Hungary
Tibet Support Group – Krasnodar Region, Russia
Tibet Support Group – Romania
Tibet Support Group – Sochi Region, Russia
Tibetan Community in Poland
Tibetan Programme of The Other Space Foundation
TSG – Slovenia
Union Latvija Tibetai (Latvia for Tibet )
Zida Cels, Latvia
Tibetan Association of Slovakia

North America:
Association Cognizance Tibet, North Carolina
Bay Area Friends of Tibet
Boston Tibet Network
Canada Tibet Committee
Colorado Friends of Tibet
Committee of 100 for Tibet
CTC – Calgary
Dhokam Chushi Gangdruk
International Tibet Independence Movement
Los Angeles Friends of Tibet
Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association
San Diego Friends of Tibet
Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet
Sierra Friends of Tibet
Snow Lion Foundation
Students for a Free Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet – Canada
The Tibetan Alliance of Chicago
The World Tibet Day Foundation
Tibet Committee of Fairbanks
Tibet Justice Center
Tibetan Association of Ithaca
Tibetan Association of Northern California
Tibetan Association of Philadephia
Tibetan Association of Santa Fe
Tibetan Association of Southern California
Tibetan Cultural Association – Quebec
Tibet Oral History Project
Toronto Tibet Youth Congress
U.S. Tibet Committee
Western Colorado Friends of Tibet
Wisconsin Tibetan Association
United Nations for a Free Tibet (UNFFT)

Central and South America:
Amigos del Tibet, El Salvador
Asociación Cultural Peruano Tibetana *
Asociación Cultural Tibetano – Costarricense
Casa Tibet Mexico
Centro De Cultura Tibetana – Brazil *
Grupo De Apoyo a Tibet Chile *
Grupo Pro-Cultura Tibetana, Chile *
Le Club Francais – Paraguay
Pensando En Tibet – Mexico
Tibet Group-Panama
Tíbet Patria Libre, Uruguay
Fundación Pro Tibet – Argentina
Friends of Tibet in Costa Rica
World League for Freedom and Democracy

Bharrat Tibbat Sahyog Manch, India
Core Group for Tibetan Cause, India
Foundation for Universal Responsibility of H. H. the Dalai Lama
Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet
Himalayan Committee for Action on Tibet
India Tibet Friendship Society
Japan Association of Monks for Tibet (Super Sangha)
Lung-Ta Project
Mahatma Gandhi Tibet Freedom Movement
National Campaign for Tibetan Support, India
National Democratic Party of Tibet
Raise Tibetan Flag Campaign
Roof of the World Foundation, Indonesia
SFT Japan
Students for a Free Tibet – Bangladesh
Taiwan Friends of Tibet
Taiwan Tibet Exchange Foundation
The Youth Liberation Front of Tibet, Mongolia and Turkestan
Tibet Lives, India
Tibet Philippines Support Network
Tibet Solidarity Forum, Bangladesh
Tibet Support Group Kiku, Japan
Tibet Support Network Japan
Tibetan Student Association, Madras (TSAM)
Tibetan Parliamentary and Policy Research Centre
Tibetan Rights and Freedom Committee (TRFRC)
Tibetan Women’s Association (Central)
Tibetan Youth Congress
Japan Committee of 100 for TIbet
Ns3 Rigpa Community Builder’s Foundation
Anterrashtriya Bharat – Tibbet Sahyog Samiti

A.C.T. Tibet Support Group
Australia Tibet Council
Friends of Tibet New Zealand
Students for a Free Tibet New Zealand
Tibet Action Group of Western Australia
Tibet Support Group Adelaide – Australia
Tibetan Community of Australia (Victoria)
Tibetan Women Association and Friends Australia (TWAFA)
Sakya Trinley Ling
Australian Tibet House Inc.

Africa and Middle East:
Friends of Tibet – Isamailia (Egypt)
Israeli Friends of the Tibetan People
Tibet Support Group Kenya
Dalai Lama Movement East Africa