Spain court to hear suit against China officials for pro-Tibet protest violence

[JURIST] Spain's National Court [official website, in Spanish] agreed Tuesday to hear a suit filed by pro-Tibet advocacy groups alleging that seven Chinese officials committed acts of genocide in connection with China's attempts to suppress protests against Chinese rule in Tibet [BBC backgrounder] in March. The suit, filed July 7 by the Tibet House Foundation, Support Tibet Committee [advocacy websites, in Spanish], and Tubten Wanghen Sherpa Sherpa, accuses Chinese officials, including Defence Minister Liang Guanglie, of organizing a violent response to the demonstrations that resulted in the deaths of at least 200 protesters and the arrest of about 6,000. Following the court's decision to hear the case, the director of the Support Tibet Committee told an AFP reporter [AFP report] that he was "stunned with joy for the victims and the Tibetan people." Reuters has more. The Epoch Times has local coverage.

Under Spanish law, the country's courts can exercise universal jurisdiction [HRW backgrounder] to try those suspected of genocide and other serious human rights offenses even if they occur abroad. Chinese officials have blamed the exiled Dalai Lama [personal website] for organizing the protests by Buddhist monks in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa in March. China says that 19 people died after skirmishes between pro-Tibet protesters and Chinese authorities during the demonstrations, but the Tibetan government-in-exile [official website] said that 130 had died [JURIST report]. The Dalai Lama has denied accusations that he was behind the riots and has said that he supports true autonomy for Tibet, not outright independence.

 

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