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International Experts Testify in Spain's National Court as Tension Mounts and the Self-Immolations in Tibet Contiue

posted Dec 30, 2012, 5:38 PM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Dec 30, 2012, 5:43 PM ]

By Comité de Apoyo al Tíbet (CAT)
27 December 2012

In the latest writ issued by the Audiencia Nacional’s court Nº 2, two international experts have been summoned to testify and ratify one of the two expert reports presented by the CAT. The first, “The chain of command in the People’s Republic of China and the direct responsibility of Chinese leaders in the international crimes committed in Tibet”, is written by experts from the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and was presented on 26 October 2012. The first expert will testify tomorrow 28th of Dec. 2012. No date has been fixed yet for the second expert testimony.

The second expert report, “The Chinese Communist Party and the chain of command in the government in China and Tibet and the responsibility of Jiang Zemin and Chen Kuiyan in crimes of genocide and other serious human rights abuses committed against the Tibetan people in China”, was presented by the CAT on 14 November and was written by another group of experts from the Human Rights Law Foundation (HRLF). These two reports aim to extend the evidence regarding the responsibility of those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes denounced in the original lawsuit admitted in court on 10 January 2006 and in a subsequent extension to the lawsuit that was admitted on 7 October 2008.

Both reports aim to extend and strengthen the evidence and arguments submitted previously regarding the chain of command in the government and the Chinese Communist Party which points towards responsibility of the persons who stand accused.

The expert witness Kate Saunders, who will testify in court tomorrow the 28 December at 10 am., will bring with her a new documentary that will  explain briefly (15 minutes) but convincingly the growing tension in Tibet in the context of the escalating oppression and the more than 94 self-immolations of Tibetans.

Kate Saunders is director of communications and head of monitoring at the the International Campaign for Tibet. Author and journalist specialising in China and Tibet for 15 years, she authored “18 Layers of Hell: Stories From The Chinese Gulag”, Cassell, 1994 numerous reports of Tibet and articles in newspapers and publications worldwide, including The Times, Washington Post, Guardian.

The second lawsuit admitted by Court Room Nº 1 on the 5th of August 2008 is presently shelved. After loosing our appeal to the Supreme Court we are now appealing to Spain´s Constitutional Court arguing the violation of fundamental rights in the whole process and calling for the re-opening of the case. 


The CAT considers that this is proof that the genocide and other international crimes that we denounced in the past since the first lawsuit was lodged on 28 June 2005 are still taking place in the present with a different rhythm and different methods but with the same objective: that of eliminating the Tibetan people through police, cultural and military repression.

It is unacceptable that the international community continues to remain silent and even covers up this state of impunity, which clearly favours the continuation of crimes in Tibet. Since this legal battle in favour of Tibetan victims was launched, the repeated human rights violations have not abated: the systematic practice of torture, forced disappearances, and a policy of apartheid made possible by the colonization of this territory by thousands of Chinese immigrants, which has accelerated with the new trans-Himalayan railway, and the forced relocation of the nomadic peoples now confined to internment camps that are sadly reminiscent of the confining of native American tribes.

As a result, the CAT continues to seek universal justice as the only method of obtaining criminal responsibility of the maximum leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, and these declarations and reports are one more step in this direction.




Press Conference and short documentary on Tibet:


The Tibet cases in the Audiencia Nacional and a brief documentary on the self-immolations and current tense situation in Tibet

 (See annex below on the report/documentary)

 Hosted by:

 Comité de Apoyo al Tíbet (CAT)



Dr. José Elias Esteve Moltó – Profesor of International law at the University of Valencia, researcher and author of the lawsuits, vice president of the CAT)

Kate Saunders – expert witness in both Tibet lawsuits, 15 years’ experience in Tibet and China, author of "18 Layers of Hell: the story of the Chinese gulag", communications director of the International Campaign for Tibet.

Maite Parejo Sousa – lawyer specialising in international criminal law and the Tibet cases

Alán Cantos - Director of the CAT (principal plaintiffs)


Mini documentary (15min / narration and subtitles in Spanish):  "Storm in the Grasslands: Self-immolations in Tibet and Chinese policy" produced by the International Campaign for Tibet (


Date and time: 28 December 2012 / 19:00 hrs.


Place: Bookstore Enclave de Libros

C/Relatores, 16 (Metro Tirso de Molina)

28012 – Madrid

Tfno. 91 369 46 49




ANNEX: Information on the report and documentary, “Storm in the Grasslands”:


A new report on the self-immolations in Tibet and Chinese policy, “Storm in the Grasslands: Self-immolations in Tibet and Chinese policy, published by the International Campaign for Tibet, 10 December 2012


International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) December 2012


Since February 2009, 92 Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibet, with a dramatic acceleration in frequency since the once-in-a-decade leadership transition at the Chinese Communist Party Congress in November. Twenty-eight Tibetans self-immolated in November alone, marking a new phase in the political struggle in Tibet. Many acts of self-immolation – that have recently been clustered in politically restive areas of Amdo in eastern Tibet - have been followed by mass gatherings of Tibetans to honour and express solidarity with those who have called for freedom for Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama as they set themselves on fire.

A new publication by the International Campaign for Tibet, ‘Storm in the Grasslands: Self-immolations in Tibet and Chinese policy’, published on December 10, reports that an almost daily frequency of self-immolations in recent weeks demonstrates a strong resolve among Tibetans to compel the new Chinese leadership to confront the policies and oppression that are the causes of these acts.

 ‘Storm in the Grasslands: Self-immolations in Tibet and Chinese policy’ reports:

  • New evidence of the motivations for self-immolation through the statements and last conversations of Tibetans who self-immolated. Mostly their communication has been addressed to fellow Tibetans, as opposed to the Chinese authorities or the international community, and they call for life-affirming actions of protecting Tibetan cultural identity and connecting to each other as a way of determining their own destiny.
  • The Chinese government has responded to the self-immolations and unrest in Tibet by intensifying the military build-up and strengthening the very policies and approaches that are the root cause of the acts, such as aggressive campaigns against loyalty to the Dalai Lama. The Chinese Communist Party’s feared erosion of authority and criminalization of self-immolation also leads to retributive actions against families, relatives, or monasteries associated with those who have self-immolated, which creates a vicious spiral in which more people are prepared to self-immolate because of the oppressive conditions.
  • While the self-immolations are deeply controversial, the overwhelming response from Tibetans to those who self-immolate is one of respect and the authorities’ attempts to turn people against them has been a resounding failure.
  • Thousands of Tibetans have gathered to pray and pay their respects for those who have self-immolated, and peaceful protests involving Tibetans from all sectors of society – schoolchildren, students, nomads, herders, teachers - have often followed the self-immolations. The responses by Tibetans across Tibet to the self-immolations indicate both the significance of the actions as statements, strong solidarity and unity among Tibetans, and an alternate narrative of cultural resilience as Tibetans take increasingly bold steps to defend the core values of their culture.
  • Tibetans have sought to demonstrate their allegiance to the Dalai Lama’s ethos of non-violence, and ICT’s report includes images of symbolic expressions of non-violent intent in which Tibetans hand in knives to be destroyed along with wild animal pelts, in gestures that illustrate vows to end internal strife and stay united. There are still fears, however, of how the political struggle in Tibet may develop if Chinese oppression continues.
  • While the Chinese government has sought to underplay the self-immolations, they expose a crisis in the Beijing leadership’s Tibet policy. The self-immolations are a dramatic and visible counter to the claims of the Chinese Communist Party to be improving Tibetans’ lives and they are a direct challenge to the Party’s legitimacy in Tibet. Although the Chinese government has sought to blame the Dalai Lama and ‘outside forces’ for the self-immolations, It is acknowledged by the international community as well as a number of scholars and netizens in China that these dramatic developments in Tibet reflect significant failures in policy that must be addressed.

The ICT report ‘Storm in the Grasslands: Self-immolations in Tibet and Chinese policy’ will be available for downloading as an electronic pdf at from December 10. It includes:

  • Details about the lives of 58 Tibetans who have set fire to themselves, including translated copies of notes they left behind or details of their last words to friends and family.
  • An analysis of a direct correlation between the self-immolations and an intensified campaign against the Dalai Lama in Tibet together with the aggressive expansion of legal measures tightening state control over Tibetan religion and culture.
  • Insights from work team officials in Tibet of the authorities’ new ‘war against secessionist sabotage’, in which the Chinese government seeks to replace loyalty to the Dalai Lama in Tibetan hearts and minds with allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party and undermine Tibetan national identity.
  • An assessment of the official response to the self-immolations. As the scale of the tragedy increased, there appeared to be a level of ambiguity in official reporting, although language became more strident particularly at the time of the Communist Party Congress in November, when self-immolations spiked in Tibet.

Advance copies of ‘Storm in the Grasslands: Self-immolations in Tibet and Chinese policy’ are available now. Images from the report are also available. Contact

The report is available online at

Press contact:
Kate Saunders
Communications Director, International Campaign for Tibet
+44 (0) 7947 138612 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +44 (0) 7947 138612


CAT expresses heartfull thanks to to Enclave de Libros bookstore for their hospitality and cooperation in this event.


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