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London: - Spanish High Court Judge Ismael Moreno on Monday sought international arrest orders for former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, ex-Prime Minister Li Peng and others on allegations of genocide in Tibet.

High Court Judge Ismael Moreno asked Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, to issue orders for the detention of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, ex-premier Li Peng and three other officials for questioning on charges brought by Tibetan rights groups in Spain.

The long drawn out case has drawn strong rebuke from China with foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying saying, "China is strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposed to the erroneous acts taken by the Spanish agencies in disregard of China's position". Hua blasted what she referred to as overseas groups pursuing Tibetan independence and called for the Spanish government to "see through the Dalai group's attempt to split the country", referring to exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Still, she emphasised that as China does not interfere in other countries' affairs it had no comment on how "domestic forces in Spain deal with" the issue.

"But I believe this incident concerns the sound development of bilateral relations, so we hope that the Spanish government can properly deal with this matter and tell right from wrong," she added.

Away from China the Tibetan community is seeing this as a momentous event, showing the shifting Western views with Lhadon Tethong, former head of Students for a Free Tibet and now director of Tibet Action Institute saying, "This is perhaps the most significant development in Tibet-China relations in decades. That any Chinese leader could be faced with - for even for a moment - the possibility of being held accountable for Chinese policy in Tibet under international law will have a major impact on the psyche of present and future Chinese leaders. They will continue to act arrogantly for sure but make no mistake, they are already changed by this. History was just made, right before our eyes."

The case began in 2006 when Two Tibetan support groups and a monk with Spanish nationality brought a case in Spain against the former Chinese leaders over allegations they committed genocide in Tibet.

It is the same concept used by Spain's former judge Baltasar Garzon to bring about the 1998 arrest of Chile's ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet in London. Pinochet was eventually allowed to return to Chile for health reasons.

"Jiang exercised supervisory authority over the people who directly committed abuses, which makes him responsible for acts of torture and other major abuses of human rights perpetrated by his subordinates against the people of Tibet," Moreno wrote in his ruling.

Reports state that Spain's government are planning to change the independent judiciary of Spain, in a political move to close down a ground-breaking Tibet lawsuit that implicates Chinese leaders of genocide in Tibet. This has been followed by a backlash from human right groups. According to Iona Liddell at Tibet Justice Center; "Yesterday, 17 legal and human rights organizations, including Redress, FIDH, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, sent a joint letter to Spanish parliamentarians, raising concerns about the proposed restrictions to universal jurisdiction law ahead of the preliminary discussion on the draft bill which takes place today."

Tibet was an independent country until the Communist Chinese troops invaded it in 1949. The Communist regime claims it "peacefully liberated" the Himalayan region it says was mired in poverty, exploitation and economic stagnation.

Tibetans however say 'over 1.2 million Tibetans have died as a direct result of China's illegal occupation of Tibet, and human rights conditions remain dismal. In Tibet today, there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of assembly, no freedom of press and no freedom of religion. The regime is clearly determined to wipe out all traces of Tibetan national identity in an attempt to stifle any form of dissent among Tibetans.'

To sign a petition urging Spain's Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, and other EU leaders to Stand Up for Tibet against China's pressure and retain the independence of judicial systems from political interference, click on the link below. http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1762&ea.campaign.id=24964

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com