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[Tibetan version is attached below as a PDF]
November 20th, 2015
Dear Mr. Chief Election Commissioner Sonam Choephel Shosur la:
As you know, on August 26, 2015, I wrote to the Election Commission (EC) on behalf of the Tibetan National Congress (TNC), a Tibetan political party. We requested official “recognition,” which the EC now requires for participation in the Tibetan election process without restrictions on free speech rights. The EC announced this new rule in June 2015, just a few months before the primary vote.
In your reply to our letter, you stated that the EC has no jurisdiction on granting recognition, and that we should write to the Kashag (Cabinet) for recognition. You did not address our key question on how the EC will ensure that the effects of its rule are fair and depoliticized while requiring a political body like the Kashag to recognize TNC.
On September 2, 2015 (Tibetan Democracy Day), at your instruction we wrote to the Kashag and personally to Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, requesting recognition – or at least an explanation why it would not be given. Two months later, we have yet to receive any reply or acknowledgement. With the Kashag’s refusal to even respond to our request, it appears that the EC has laid a path that leads to a locked door — or perhaps a door guarded by a party with a conflict of interest. Since the EC apparently has no power to unlock the door, I respectfully suggest that the EC should reassess the fairness of the path.
Otherwise this rule – granting an effective veto to the incumbent Sikyong as he seeks another term – does not bode well for Tibetan democracy. A group of esteemed Tibet supporters wrote to the Sikyong and EC that “no legitimate democratic system can allow one candidate in an election to decide which groups get to speak or spend freely in that election.”<1> This point was reiterated by a group of election monitors, who called for “leveling the playing field of campaign finance and allowing all independent and outside the recognized groups to campaign for a candidate.”<2> Clearly, outside groups see this system as discriminatory and unfair.
Why do we care so much about “recognition”? Because lacking recognition, TNC has already been irreparably harmed in our ability to participate in the democratic process. It has been like wrestling with both hands tied behind our back, while groups supporting the incumbents are unbound. From the beginning of this election season, TNC had to negotiate candidates’ written permission before we could even issue a statement of support for them. Every rupee or dollar we spend — even for a single poster — has to be documented and counted toward the candidates’ strict spending cap. We have had to cancel planned travel for meetings and campaign events to avoid the candidate breaching their expense cap.
Meanwhile, “recognized” groups like NDPT and Utsang Tsokpa have been freely supporting their candidates through endorsements, fliers, banners in settlements, etc. They do not have to account for any of their expenditures. They have been free to spend whatever they wish to promote the incumbent candidates.
As shown by the EC’s 20% requirement amendment to the election by-laws on selecting the final Sikyong candidates (which the EC announced 2 days after the preliminary vote) the EC clearly seems to exercise significant power and discretion. Therefore, we respectfully repeat our request for a temporary exemption to the EC’s rule requiring official recognition until such time as (i) the Kashag grants us recognition, or (ii) if the Kashag refuses us recognition, the Supreme Justice Commission rules on our appeal of such decision.
Mr. Election Commissioner, we have followed your instructions on seeking “recognition”. Your process has led us to a dead end. Our lack of “recognition” has already caused irreparable harm: the primary season is now over, and TNC will never recover those missed months to campaign freely. And as the final election draws near, every passing day exacerbates the unlevel playing field we face.
Mr. Election Commissioner, we are not asking that the EC force the Kashag to do anything. We are merely asking for the EC to grant us temporary relief from your restrictions — to treat us no differently than the “recognized” groups — since the Kashag does not appear to be inclined to respond.
Mr. Election Commissioner, you responded to the letter by the esteemed Tibet supporters by claiming that our Tibetan democracy “cannot be compared to the laws of democratic independent countries.”<3> We respectfully urge you to reconsider this relativism. We believe our Tibetan democracy must strive to meet the highest standards of fairness and legitimacy. We believe the example we set in exile illustrates the moral correctness of our cause, and inspires our sisters and brothers in Tibet as to what a free Tibet could look like.
We are hopeful that you will do the fair and honorable thing, and allow TNC to be treated no differently. That is all we ask. This is not about any one candidate; this is about the fairness of the Tibetan election process, and ultimately upholding the precious Tibetan democracy.
President, Tibetan National Congress
3. www.tibet.net/2015/10/clarification-to-the-group-of-tibet-supporters-who-have-expressed-concerns- about-the-tibetan-election-process-in-the-media-dated-13-october-2015/
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By Tenzin Tsering
REFUGEE: Rights & Issue of Deportation under Indian Legal System
Introduction - During my recent visit to Dharamsala District Court to appear for Mr. Phuntsok case (a young TVC Gopalpur student arrested by police in connection with invalid RC), I had observed that the FIR has been registered by the police in a casual manner, without considering that the fact that it’s a discretion of the authority to re-new the RC even after the time lapse. Nevertheless, I was more surprised by the conduct of the Lower Court in dealing with his bail application. Ld. Judicial Magistrate Court, Dharamsala while dismissing his bail application had made very serious observation, stating that he requires to be deported. It is stated that the issue of deportation can be decided only by the authority and the Court have no business to make such observation until he is not found guilty of the offence. By making such stringent observation the Ld. Court probably missed out the fact that, the accused is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty by the Court of Law. Undoubtedly, Section 14 of the Foreign Act is complicated sections which involve continuous offence. However, there is no legislative mandate that shall appear from a reading of the Foreigners Act that a person charged with an offence under the said Act cannot apply for bail.
Definition of Refugee - The word refugee in general term means a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. It is stated that a person becomes a refugee because of he/she has left with no other option but to flee from human rights violations, socio-economic and political insecurity, generalised violence, civil war or ethnic strife all these leading to fear of persecution. The term ‘Refugee’ has a particular meaning under International Law and its legal definition is laid down in the United Nations 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (herein referred as “1951 Convention”) and its 1967 Protocol. Article 1 of the 1951 Refugee Convention defines a refugee as:- "A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it. India's law to deal with `refugees' is inchoate. Under the Indian law, there is no specific definition which defined “Refugee”. The section 3(a) of the Foreigners Act, 1946 defined the word "foreigner" means a person who is not a citizen of India. Further, Section 2(b) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 defined the word “illegal migrant”, which defined as a foreigner who has entered into India- (i) without a valid passport or other travel documents and such other documents or authority as may be prescribed by or under any law in that behalf; or (ii) with a valid passport or other travel documents and such other documents or authority as may be prescribed by or under any law in that behalf but remains therein beyond the permitted period of time. Rajeev Dhavan, Senior Advocate of Supreme Court & Constitutional Expert had points out the difference between ‘refugees’ ‘asylum seekers’ and ‘migrants’ in his book Refugee Law and Policy in India. ‘Refugees’ and ‘asylum seekers’ are externally displaced persons forced out or forced to leave their countries and who cannot return because they have a well-founded fear of persecution. They are not bereft of ideas of social and economic betterment. But, they are distinct from ‘migrants’ voluntarily seeking a better life.” Currently, in India the refugees are governed by outdated Foreigners Act, 1946. The primary and most significant lacuna in this law is that it does not contain the term ‘refugee’; consequently under Indian Law, the term ‘foreigner’ is used to cover aliens temporarily or permanently residing in the country. This places refugees, along with immigrants, and tourists in this broad category, depriving them of privileges available under the Geneva Convention. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has submitted numerous reports to the Government of India urging to promulgate refugee law in India or bring amendments to the outdated Foreigners Act (1946).
Registration Certificate (RC) for Tibetans:- The Registration Certificate are issued all the non-citizen including Tibetans, who are either born in India or entered into India. Registration Certificate is a documents issued by the Government of India, which permits non-citizen including Tibetans to stays in India. It has to get it renewed every five years (earlier it used to renewed every one year). The Tibetan’s Registration Certificate are issued by the Central Government by exercising power under Section 3 of the Foreigner Act, 1946 & Section 3 of the Registration of Foreigner Act, 1939, which reads as under:- “Regulating Entry of Tibetan Nationals into India- In exercise of the power conferred by Section 3 of the Foreigner Act, 1946 and Section 3 of the Registration of Foreigner Act, 1939, the Central Government is pleased to direct that any foreigner of Tibetan nationality, who enters India hereafter, shall- (a) At the time of his entry into India obtain from the Officer-in-Charge of the Police post at the Indo-Tibetan frontier, a permit in the form specified in the annexed schedule; (b) Comply with such instruction as may be prescribed in the said permit; and (c) Get himself registered as a foreigner and obtain a certificate of registration.”
Ramification for Non-Renewal of Registration of Certificate- Non-renewal of Registration Certificate before the expiry date shall invite legal action against the RC holder by police authorities. Non-renewal of Registration Certificate would amount to criminal offence and such person may be book under section 14 of the Foreigner Act. There are few cases particularly from Dharamsala (HP) where the police had arrested Tibetans for failing to re-new RC and 7-8 cases of deportation of Tibetan by Local Authorities to Tibet, for not having valid RC. Many a times Courts are either reluctant or denied bail to Tibetan arrested in contravention to Section 14 of the Foreigner Act, which is a violation of fundamental right of the person arrested. The Supreme Court of India had time and again had stated that, "Personal liberty, deprived when bail is refused, is too precious a value of our constitutional system recognized under Article 21 that the crucial power to negate it is a great trust exercisable, not casually but judicially, with lively concern for the cost to the individual and community. To glamorize impressionistic orders as discretionary may, on occasions, make a litigative gamble decisive of a fundamental right. After all, personal liberty of an accused or convict is fundamental, suffering lawful eclipse only in terms of procedure established by 'law'. The denial of bail by the Court merely on the basis of being a foreign national is a violation of fundamental right of the accused person, particularly when no such distinction has been made by the Legislature under the Law. The High Court of Delhi while dealing with the similar issue in the case of Lambert Kroger vs Enforcement Directorate reported in 85 (2000) DLT 46, while allowing the bail application of the foreign national made an observation that "Admittedly the petitioner’s passport is with the respondent and ordinarily the petitioner cannot leave the country without the passport. Though the possibility of fleeing from trial may be more in the case of foreign national. It cannot be said that an accused cannot be granted bail merely because he is a foreign national. There is no law which authorizes or permits discrimination between a foreign national and an Indian national in the matter of granting bail what is permissible is that, considering the facts and circumstances of each case, the Court can impose different conditions to ensure that the accused will be available for facing trial."
International Conventions on Non- Refoulement or Repatriation of Refugee- India believes that it has always been generous towards refugees, even without being party to the 1951 Convention. India is neither party to the 1951 Refugee Convention nor its 1967 Protocol and even it does not have a law or policy for the protection of refugee in India. However, it continues to grant asylum to a large number of refugees from neighbouring countries viz. Tibetans, Burmese, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Afghanis etc. Though India is not a signatory to 1951 Refugee Convention nor 1967 Protocol but India is signatory to the United Nations Convention against Torture on 14.10.1997 and both the convention provides non-refoulement provisions. (a) 1951 Refugee Convention- Article 33- Prohibition of expulsion or return (Refoulement)- No Contraction State shall expel or return ('refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. (b) Convention Against Torture & Other Cruel, Inhuman or Defrading Treatment or Punishment (commonly known as the United Nations Convention against Torture- Article 3 of the said Convention states that- No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture. Thus, the perusal of the above two provisions manifest that even if the refugee in India are not protected by 1951 Refugee Convention from Refoulement/deportation, yet the Government of India cannot deport the refugee in view of the protection given by Article 3 of the United Nations Convention against Torture being signatory to the said convention. Further, the Government of India being party to the Universal Nation Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) is also bound to protect the human right of the refugee and protect the refugee from refoulement/deportation.
India’s obligation to 1951 Refugee Convention under Article 51(c) of the Constitution of India – Article 51(c) of the Constitution of India states that the State shall endeavour to “foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another”. Although India is not a party to the 1951 Convention, it is bound by the International Customary Law principle of non-refoulement. Article 51 of the Constitution extends the principle of the rules of natural justice with regard to refugees being followed i.e. the refugees should not be expelled or forcibly returned in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where their life or freedom would be threatened on account of various grounds such as membership of a particular social group or a political opinion. The principle of "Non-Refoulement" is the principle which prevents all such expulsion or forcible return of refugees and should be followed by the Government of India in accordance with Article 51 of the Constitution. Further, the Indian judiciary has also time and again ruled in favour of harmonious construction of International and Domestic law when it is consistent with fundamental rights (see Visakha vs. State of Rajasthan 1997 (6) SCC 241). In Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India AIR 1996 SC 2715 the Supreme Court of India held that “it is almost accepted proposition of law that the rules of Customary International Law which are not contrary to the Municipal Law shall be deemed to have been incorporated in the domestic law and shall be followed by the Courts of law”.
Human Right of Non-Citizen in India: The "Humanitarian Jurisprudence" is now an International Creed in time of Peace and War. According to Jean Picket, an authority on Humanitarian Law, "It is based on two basic principles viz. necessity and humanity.” The word Human Right is defined under Section 2(d) of the protection of Human Right Act, 1993 as; “Human rights means the rights relating to life liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by the Courts in India.” The Higher Judiciary in India has always emphasized upon the protection of non-citizen people and often directs the government agencies to follow the International obligations. In a landmark case by the Supreme Court in case of National Human Rights Commission v. State of Arunachal Pradesh reported in (1996) 1 SCC 742, which is now famously known as ‘Chakma case’, for the first time had enlarged the scope of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. In the said case, National Human Rights Commission approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India under Article 32 of the Constitution of India and obtained protection for the Chakma refugee from Chittagong Hill Tracts tribal areas of Bangladesh, when their life and security was threatened by the local politicians and AAPSU leaders in the State of Arunachal Pradesh. The Supreme Court granted relief on the basis of the rights of the aliens under Article 14 & 21 of the Constitution of India and held that the Indian Constitution confer certain rights on every human being, may be a citizen of this country or not, which includes right of "life". Hon’ble Chief Justice of India A. M. Ahmedi, C. J. (as he then was), speaking for the Court, said:- “We are a country governed by the Rule of Law. Our Constitution confers certain rights on every human being and certain other rights on citizens. Every person is entitled to equality before the law and equal protection of the laws. So also, no person can be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. Thus, the State is bound to protect the life and liberty of every human being, be he a citizen or otherwise.” The Supreme Court recently affirmed the said principle of right to life and liberty (Article 21) for non-citizen in its recent judgment while dealing with the case of an FIR filed by police against three Uganda nationals, where it observed that, “Article 21 of the Constitution [right to life and liberty] applies to all citizens, whether Indian or foreign nationals. Their right to liberty could not be restrained by the police due to a business dispute."
Role of Indian Judiciary for the protection of Refugee from Deportation, Refoulement or Repatriation: Refugees are often been danger of refoulement or repatriate or deportation by the India authorities when they are arrested or detained. Those who arrested for illegal stay may be detained illegally under administrative order without charges. The Foreigners Act confers the power to expel foreigners from India. It vests the Central Government with absolute and unfettered discretion and, as there is no provision fettering this discretion in the Constitution, an unrestricted right to expel remains. The non-refoulment principle is the heart of the Refugee Convention which prevents deportation to a persecuting country. The Foreigners Act allows the Indian government to refoule foreigners, including asylum-seekers, through deportation, and is therefore in violation of International Customary Law. The Supreme Court of India in Hans Muller of Nurenburg vs Superintendent, Presidency (1955 SCR (1)1284) gave "absolute and unfettered" discretion to the Government to throw out foreigners. The said judgment was again affirmed by the Supreme Court in Mr. Louis De Raedt & Ors vs Union Of India (1991 SCR (3) 149) however, at the same time, the Supreme Court in the said judgment had recognized that "foreigners" have due process rights including the right to be heard. However, it is relevant to note that the Law follows the Fact. Merely non-renewal of RC is not sufficient ground for deportation, it has to be back by fact that the deportee is involved in activities which prejudicial the security of the Country. For instant, in the case of Mohammad Sadiq Versus Government of India, the Court held that refugee can be deported on the grounds of national security. In this case, the court allowed the deportation of refugees under the Foreigners Act, 1946 if they were found indulging in activities undesirable and prejudicial to the security of India. Similar view was taken by the High Court of Delhi in Khadija Versus Union of India, where it held that International Law and Conventions cannot be applied to refugees indulging in criminal activities, and consequently, they can be repatriated the UNHCR, New Delhi for their country settlement, the Court has given a time four weeks to the Petitioner to seek asylum in a third Country.
The well-known judgment on the issue of Refuge and application of 1951 Refugee Convention in India is Ktaer Abbas Habib Al Qutaifi vs Union Of India 1999 CriLJ 919, wherein the High Court of Gujarat highlighted the principle of non-refoulement and extensively pointed out the importance of this present general principle of International Law in the context of application in the municipal legal system like India. After referring Article 33 of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the High Court of Gujarat held that the principle of non-refoulement prevents expulsion of a refugee where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. Its application protects life and liberty of a human being irrespectively of his nationality. It is encompassed in Article 21 of the Constitution, as long as the presence of refugee is not prejudicial to the law and order and security of the India. The Court further reiterated that all member nations of the United Nations including our county i.e. India is expected to respect for International treaties and conventions, concerning Humanitarian Law.
Further, the High Court of Madras in P. Nedunara v. Union of India [Writ Petition No. 6708/96], the controversy was with respect to deportation of certain Sri Lankan Refugees, wherein the High Court restrained the Government from deporting refugees to Sri Lanka against their will. Even the High Court of Gauhati in Civil Writ Petition No. 1847/89], wherein the Petitioner sought direction to allow him to go to Delhi to seek political asylum from the United Nations, High Commissioner for Refugees. He also prayed that till he gets such certificate he may not be deported to Burma, where his life would be in danger. During the pendency of the writ petition, the petitioner has registered as refugee. On the facts of the case, the Court directed to release the petitioner to enable him to make an attempt to obtain political asylum. In Zothansangpuri v. State of Manipur the Guwahati High Court held that refugees have the right not to be deported if their life was in danger in the country to which he is proposed to be deported. It is stated that the reason which the court noted in the above cases is that if deported, the refugee‘s life would be in danger and the significance of these cases is that the Court noted that the refugees have a right to be protected against deportation order under International Law and also have fundamental rights under Articles 10, 21 and 22 of 82 the Constitution of India.
CONCLUSION: Thus, in light of the discussed above, I opine that when the issue of human rights of individual is involve, the Court has to take liberal view and exercise its extra-ordinary jurisdiction in order to protect the life and liberty of the refugee. The Court while ordering deportation of refugee must act cautiously, keeping in mind the human right of the deportee. As per my knowledge, there are 7-8 cases of Tibetans being deported by the India authorities, which is not only violation of human right but also against Customary International Law. Secondly, the Article 51 of the Constitution extends the principle of the rules of natural justice with regard to refugees being followed i.e. the refugees should not be expelled or forcibly returned in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where their life or freedom would be threatened on account of various grounds such as membership of a particular social group or a political opinion. The principle of "Non-Refoulement" is the principle which prevents all such expulsion or forcible return of refugees and should be followed by the Government of India in accordance with Article 51 of the Constitution. Even otherwise, India may not be party to 1951 Convention but since India has accepted refugees in its State, it is deemed to be an impliedly followed 1951 Refugee Convention. Thirdly, Refugee who are denied protection by the Government of India can get refugee status from the UNHCR in a de facto system of refugee protection in India.
Submitted by author for publication on TPR
By Tashi Shitsetsang
The preliminary elections of the Sikyong (Tibetan Political leader) and members of the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile recently took place across the globe. I felt very excited to make use of my rights as a Tibetan Green Book holder for the first time. I was ready to finally embrace our democracy, but what awaited me was truly shocking and slightly disappointing. Heavy imputations, vague rules and regulations and arbitrary changes brought a lot of confusion and debate among the Tibetan community in exile.
Open letter to the Sikyong, Kashag and Election Commissioner
Before the elections even started, an open letter dated Oct 13, in which 27 Tibet support groups raised their concerns over the procedures of the 2016 elections, went viral. They brought up several issues, including the Election Commission (EC) turning a blind eye on the complaint ‘alleging that an incumbent candidate is violating the Election Commission’s prohibition on using official platforms for campaign purposes’.
In an interview with Voice of Tibet on October 17(i), Sonam Choephel Shosur, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) stated that the Election Commission (EC) would only investigate such cases if evidence was provided to them. Moreover, the EC responded that they could not observe all non-compliance, which, like the open letter said, ‘raises the troubling possibility of selective enforcement’.
Another topic was the provision of space for arbitrary interpretation through vague rules. When reading the electoral rules and regulations, it immediately stands out that the articles can be interpreted in several ways.
Rules on campaign expenditure
Article 25 (9a) in the electoral rules and regulations states ‘The maximum expenditure allowance for each Sikyong candidate is eight lakh Indian rupees (Rs. 800,000), whereas the maximum expenditure allowance for each MP candidate is three lakhs Indian rupees (300,000)’.[i]Although the compliance of it is nearly impossible, considering the fact that Sikyong candidates have to travel all around the world for their campaign within that budget, these limits are a good attempt for fairness and transparency.
However, certain organizations that want to financially support a candidate are free from these restrictions. The Asia Democracy Network (ADN), the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), and the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) have served as watchdogs in the recently concluded preliminary elections. In their review of the preliminaries, they raised a legitimate concern stating: “In this case, the exemption of certain recognized groups from these spending limits damaged the credibility of the campaign finance rules and unnecessarily tilted the campaign playing field towards those candidates with backing from the outside recognized groups.” The same issue was raised in the above-mentioned open letter. Their accusations are extremely severe: constraint of the right to free speech and inconsistency of human rights. On October 27, the EC published a clarification [ii] simply saying that ‘These directives of the Election Commission, do not in any way, infringe on the right to free speech, association and campaign rights of any candidate, nor do they contravene any international human rights laws’ and that they do not possess any authority to approve these particular organizations. They stated that the decision to recognize a group lies in the hands of the Kashag (Tibetan Cabinet). What makes this selection questionable is the secrecy of the criteria, which the organizations have to meet.
With the additional rule, the campaign expenditure limits serve no purpose anymore. Either, the extra rule has to be abolished to provide level playing field for all candidates or the disclosure of the criteria must be provided so that there is transparency and the Kashag’s decision is comprehensible.
In an interview with Tibet Express [iii], the CEC asserted that ‘the directive for campaign expenses was passed to raise awareness among the Tibetan people about the importance of transparency of campaign expenses during elections’. What the EC apparently is not aware of, is the importance of the implementation of all necessary measures in order to provide equal opportunities and the best possible transparency.
New 20% regulation in the Sikyong election
On October 19, the EC issued a circular number of candidates to be shortlisted for the final round of the Tibetan elections. Article 67 of the electoral rules and regulations [iv] says that the EC will not shortlist less than two Sikyong candidates for the final election. In the circular, the EC added: “However, if the vote margin between the second and third candidate is less than 20% in the preliminary election, three candidates shall be shortlisted for the final Sikyong election.” This incomprehensible new rule was not a real surprise given the fact that the EC kept quiet about the number of Sikyong candidates in the final round for a long time.
As part of the Europe tour, the CEC held a public talk in Switzerland on October 3 which I attended. The main goal of this tour was to raise awareness about the elections and their procedure. During the Q&A session [v], one of the attendees inquired whether the number of candidates for the final Sikyong round would be announced before or after the preliminaries and if it’s announced after the preliminary election, why that would be so. Sonam Choephel Shosur, as I predicted, had no straight forward answer to these questions. He explained that there would be six Sikyong candidates for the preliminary elections but he did not mention a single word about the number of Sikyong candidates to be shortlisted for the final round. Instead, in a bid to circumvent the specific question regarding the Sikyong candidates, he said ‘if there were ten Chitue seats, there would be 20 Chitue candidates for the final round. At that point I knew that issues like transparency and honesty did not matter much to the EC. I felt that, even as the first round of elections was nearing, they were still trying to fool us.
What makes one question this new 20% regulation even more is the fact that in the last elections, this rule did not exist. Tashi Wangdi, the third candidate in the previous election, was allowed to contest in the final round although the vote margin between him and Tenzin Namgyal Tethong, who stood second, exceeded 20%. In the interview with Tibet Express mentioned above, the EC explained that this rule is to ensure that the third candidate would be included if he fulfilled the given condition ‘because we found it important as it reflects people’s choice’.
What they probably did not think of is the fact that, like me, many people are now left with basically no choice for the final round because neither of the two candidates, who are likely to advance to the next round, Lobsang Sangay and Penpa Tsering, represent their opinion. Without Lukar Jam, who is likely to secure the third place in the preliminaries, the diversity of the ideology of the Tibetan people is not expressed. Furthermore, the most suspicious thing is the timing of the announcement. In an interview with Phayul [vi], Sonam Choephel Shosur said: “The declaration of the number of candidates to be shortlisted for the final election was made before the results of preliminary is announced to avoid any criticism against the EC for being biased.” If this corresponds to the truth, there is no legitimate reason left for the timing of the announcement, which was made after the first results of the preliminaries appeared online.
Although it is hard to say that this was deliberate, it is not difficult to believe that the purpose of the 20% rule is to exclude Sikyong candidate Lukar Jam from the race. Tenzin Nyinjey, Senior Researcher at the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) [vii] says : “Because, without him and his arguments for independence, there shall be no serious debate in the finals, since both likely candidates – LobsangSangay and PenpaTsering- are middle pathists.”
As a Tibetan, I have utmost pride in the establishment and existence of our government and democracy although our country is occupied by China. I am endlessly grateful to be able to vote and appreciate the Central Tibetan Administration and EC for providing us this right. I do realize that it takes time to develop our system of governance though I am skeptical about EC’s use of ‘we are an exiled community’ as an excuse to justify every dubious incidents. Tibetans living in exile circumstances is no reason to accept arbitrary decisions and live with the belief that we cannot amend our system. Precisely because we are an exiled community, we have to strive for the best democracy possible and send a strong message to China that, unlike them, we have a functional democracy in exile. All it takes for Tibetan green book holders is to make use of our rights and question unnecessary arbitrariness in our electoral system and governance in order to achieve a more liberal and transparent democracy.
* Tashi Shitsetsang is 19 years old and was resident of Switzerland. The member of the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe (TYAE)
[ii]http://tibet.net/2015/10/clarification-to-the-group-of-tibet-supporters-who-have- expressed-concerns-about-the-tibetan-election-process-in-the-media-dated-13-october- 2015/
Excerpt from TibetExpress.net
Tibetan Election Commissioner and Assistant Election Commissioners
"TE : In the previous election for Kalon Tripa, there were six candidates in the preliminary round and the then Election Commission decided to allow all the six candidates to stand for the final round as the electoral rules and regulations stipulated in the Tibetan charter state that the EC could shortlist a minimum of two to maximum of six candidates to stand for the finals… What is the reason behind your decision to shortlist only two Sikyong candidates with the highest number of votes to stand for the final election this time?
EC : It is true that all the six candidates were allowed to contest in the final round of the previous election. It is the first direct elections to be held since His Holiness decided to devolve all his political authority to an elected political leader chosen by the Tibetan people. Before His Holiness expressed his wish and decided to devolve his political authority, no amendments were made to the Tibetan charter and the previous election was held before amendments were made to the Tibetan charter in May 2011. As the current election is the first time that the Tibetan people are directly choosing their political leader after the amendments were made and since we must announce at least two candidates according to the electoral rules, we have decided to shortlist only two candidates with the hope that the first political leader directly chosen by the Tibetan people wins with a sizable number of votes and truly represents the wishes of the Tibetan people.
TE : …What do you think is more important?: To make sure that the winner wins with a sizable number of votes by allowing only two candidates to contest for the final or letting the Tibetan people choose the candidates for the final and declare the candidate securing maximum number of votes as the political leader.
EC : Based on the fact that there were three candidates contesting in the final round of the previous election for Kalon Tripa and depending on the results of the preliminary election which represents the wishes of the Tibetan people, we have decided that if the difference in votes between the candidates securing second highest and third highest votes is less than 20%, the third candidate will be allowed to contest in the final round."
Full version of the interview can be read at:
Clarification to group of Tibet supporters who expressed concerns about the Tibetan election process
By Tibetan Election Commission
We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to the Tibet supporters for their continued concern for the Tibetan cause. However, we would like to make the following brief clarifications to the group of Tibet supporters who have expressed their concerns about the implementation of the CTA’s electoral rules and regulations.
The Election Commission has implemented the electoral rules adopted by the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, especially Article 24 of the electoral rules, with utmost transparency. Section 9 of the article states, “During the elections of Sikyong and members of the Tibetan Parliament, the election commission should give clear directives as to the candidates, affix expenses limit by their supporters for campaigning, budgets and decorum of campaigning.” These directives of the election commission doesn’t in any way infringe on the right to free speech, association and campaign rights of any candidate, nor does it contravene any international human rights laws.
The Election Commission of the Central Tibetan Administration doesn’t have the authority to approve organisations in any of its statutes. The commission recognises the eleven organisations on the basis of their having been approved by the Kashag and the Tibetan Parliament before. Therefore, we hope that you will understand that we have not made any arbitrary and ad hoc decisions.
The duty of the Election Commission is to issue directives on the electoral rules and regulations, and to adjudicate in case of its violation. However, it doesn’t take suo moto cognizance, as is the norm in any function of law.
We would further seek your understanding that the rules and regulations of the Central Tibetan Administration are formulated on the basis of a refugee community, which cannot be compared to the laws of democratic independent countries.
In the future, if there are any opinions on the subject, do directly contact the concerned office instead of taking recourse to other channels.
26 October 2015
By Tibetan Election Commission (Oct. 20, 2015)
DHARAMSHALA: The Election Commission (EC) of the Central Tibetan Administration on 19 October issued a circular announcing the number of candidates that would be shortlisted for the final general election of Sikyong and the Tibetan Parliament, scheduled for 20 March 2016.
By Sonam Dorjee
Missed Opportunities for the 2016 Sikyong Candidate Lukar Jam to Shore Up Support from the So-Called Moderate Tibetans
Lukar Jam’s courting of unnecessary controversies such as, calling “Lar-Gyen” and vilifying His Holiness the Dalai Lama as “Gyal-Tsongpa” for embracing “Umay-Lam” approach, is a cheap underhanded way of taking shots in Tibetan politics in exile, rather than focusing squarely on the core agenda of Rangzen. For such action in politics must be condemned by all sensible Tibetans in the same vein as we do when the Chinese leaders vilify His Holiness for their own political reasons.
Just to recap the history of Umay-Lam, a special four-day conference to discuss on the crux of autonomy was held in June 1988, attended by the then Kashag, Chithues, Civil Servants, Tibetan Settlement Officers, representative of Tibetan NGOs, newly-arrived Tibetans, and special invitees that resulted in the issuance of statement in the European parliament in Strasbourg by His Holiness. Also, in an opinion poll conducted in 1997, 64% of the respondents authorized His Holiness to take full decision on the future course of Tibetan struggle. Following which, the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies had adopted a unanimous resolution on September 18, 1997 empowering His Holiness to continue to use His discretion in pursuing the “Middle-Way” approach. Therefore, it is apparent that the decision to pursue the “Middle-Way” approach was taken through series of consultations and participatory approaches.
I believe that the “Umay-Lam” approach was adopted not out of choice but of sheer despair in regaining Rangzen. Undoubtedly, it could be described as a sincere effort to bring a resolution to the Tibet issue, mainly to save the ancient Tibetan culture from meeting a slow inevitable death at the hands of Chinese rampaging policies to cleanse out Tibet’s rich tradition. Although the terming of the policy may have been inspired by the Buddhist philosophy but, by all standard measures, it was a pragmatic and selfless approach with no intentions whatsoever to seek political or religious gratifications. As such, there should be absolutely no ambiguities in the minds of Tibetans and its supporters that the “Umay-Lam” approach has been adopted and relentlessly pursued, keeping Tibetan’s best interest at heart. Despite that - to say that proposer and followers of “Umay-Lam” approach lack nationalist feeling or are less nationalist than Rangzenpas is an absurd argument and naively perceived notion, to say the least.
Regardless of its results, it has been widely appreciated by people around the world for being commendable initiatives to resolve the issue of Tibet with sincere motivation. Yet for Lukar Jam; it is an act of “Gyal-Tsongpa” or traitor, which is an utterly unethical to have termed it as such. In fact, his allegations are vehemently laden with political gimmicks and aimed at taking cheap shots in politics. Such decry is not only anti-Dalai Lama but also anti-popular mandate given by the Tibetan People’s Deputies and majority of Tibetans. If he does not have respect for the popular mandate on the “Middle-Way” approach - he has certainly lost the leverage to speak for democratic practice now, while running for the Sikyong position.
Another contentious issue is the usage of the word “Lar-Gyen.” Irrespective of his own personal belief, Lukar Jam has offended the sentiments of ardent followers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama by use of such undignified language to His Holiness. It may not be a big deal for him and his supporters but it is highly irreverent to describe a personality who is revered by majority of Tibetans and non-Tibetans alike as manifestation of Avaloketeshwara. Words best shared by Jamyang Norbu la: “Lukar Jam was a nomad boy from Chabcha, playing with sheep, and probably singing paeans to Chairman Mao in his local elementary school.” Lukar may have had enough adverse lessons from the indoctrination of Chinese communist’s propaganda while in Tibet. Whatever may be the reason - if he is serious in leading the Tibetan struggle, showing insensitivity to the sentiments of majority of the Tibetan people is not the way to go.
The Rangzen stand is nothing new to the Tibetan politics in exile. For two decades (1959 - 1979), both the Central Tibetan Administration and exile Tibetans had worked relentlessly to seek complete independence for Tibet – all in vain. Even today, it is in everyone’s right to run for the Sikyong’s position with the Rangzen agenda. However, the problem with Lukar Jam’s campaign is he fails to realize that the “Umay-Lam” approach has been adopted by majority of exile Tibetans in the best interest of Tibetans inside and outside Tibet, albeit without any concrete results so far. In light of that, it is unbecoming of a Sikyong candidate to have dismissed it without any acknowledgement that it was adopted with righteous intentions.
The perspectives from many moderate Tibetans would have been potentially different toward him if he had acknowledged that the “Umay-Lam” approach was democratically adopted through a series of consultations, granted without any meaningful results. In my view, had he built a case of reviving Rangzen stand on the bed of “Umay-Lam” approach as a ‘failed approach’, rather than dismissing it as an ill-conceived policy, he would have garnered better support from wider spectrum of the so-called moderate Tibetans. His acceptability, particularly amongst middle-aged Tibetans as a serious 2016 Sikyong’s candidate with Rangzen agenda would have been far greater. The recent non-cooperation from within exile Tibetan community during his campaign tour both in India and North America, in terms of not renting space to conduct his campaign, or refusing to disseminate his campaign related information, even through mass emailing lists – can be attributed to his misguided campaign philosophy and very little to do with his Rangzen stand.To conclude, Lukar Jam missed an opportunity to launch himself on a positive note as a viable Sikyong candidate with Rangzen agenda. As a result, apart from his handful of supporters, who may not necessarily translate into votes, for not having updated Green Book, at the ballots during election day, it has become difficult for many to consider him as a serious candidate for 2016 Sikyong election. Had he ran a clean campaign convincingly outlining a broad strategy to sustain the movements, while in exile, and ultimately regaining Rangzen against a backdrop of failing ‘Umay-Lam” approach, many moderate Tibetans would have supported him. However, it may be too late for Lukar to undo the damage in disregarding the sentiments of fellow Tibetans – but future Rangzenpas who want to lead the struggle can definitely take a clue from Lukar’s missteps. Otherwise, I would have to say - Atsok Lukar Jam has marked himself as a formidable Left-Wing activist, or nationalist (as some of his strong supporters may want him to be known as).
By Ogyen K. Gchenpa
With exile election fever being unprecedentedly high, our tiny community has gone abuzz. Politically charged Tibetans are filling wherever possible with political discussions. Such exceptional show of interest by the ordinary people in an election in this scale is rather unheard of in the past. This is mainly because of the election saw, for the first time, someone with an entirely different political ideology joining the race. When convention encounters change, outcry is certain.
One of the most important principles of democracy is pluralism, to accommodate differences and agree to disagree. But looking at the denigrations directed at Lukar Jam, an ardent believer of Rangzen (complete independence for Tibet), at the cost of our democracy, we need to still fight for democracy from the conservative circles of our society. His Holiness has given democracy to us as a gift, but those who are entrusted with its delivery seem to have hijacked it on the way, and tag anyone who actually wants it as anti-Dalai Lama.
Lukar Jam is a man of principles, and ready to endure all the disdain and vilification to live his beliefs. Who, among the conservative segments of community, dares to do this? To believe in something and not to live it is dishonest, and Lukar is challenging this dishonesty and subservience that hits exactly at their Achilles heel that costs him all sorts of character assassinations from the conservatives and their accomplices.
There are multiple unfounded allegations and accusations on the social networks like Facebook, Twitter, We Chat, Whats App etc. These rumor-mongers are the chief culprits that hinder the growth of our democracy. With the preliminary polls a few days away, it is necessary to explain and clarify these malicious allegations for a fair election:
It is widely circulated on the net that Lukar has referred His Holiness as la-rgan in one of his earlier writings, and people are made-believe that this is disparaging of His Holiness. “la” is the abbreviation of “lama” meaning “teacher”, “rgan” literally means “old” or “senior” but may also mean “honorable” or “respected”, like in the case of “rgan lak” (teacher) even if the teacher is young, and in Amdo dialect, we call “pha-rgan” (father) and “ma-rgan” (mother). For sure, one wouldn’t call a teacher, father and mother in derogatory ways.
He has been accused for calling His Holiness traitor. I’ve been closely following Lukar’s speeches since declaration of his candidacy. He has never said anything like that. He talked about this on two occasions, on VOT and RFA interviews. On both of these occasions, he didn’t talk about it voluntarily, rather he was asked whether His Holiness was a patriot or a traitor, and in response he said “this is something I don’t need say, out of these two options, which category someone who gives up (or cedes) the sovereignty of a country to another country belongs, political science has it clearly defined.” He never called His Holiness traitor and it is a thought-control to say what he said actually meant it or equals what he is accused of.
Related to this, tsen-me (disparagement) and sur-sa (sarcasm) are two catch-phrases constantly used by Lukar’s detractors to accuse him to be deploying against His Holiness. These detractors deliberately equate Umay-lam (Middle-way Approach) with His Holiness, just as anyone disagrees with Umay-lam is labeled as anti-Dalai Lama. This actually reveals their desperation after more than three decades of wrong policy and futile efforts. When they have lost everything (on our behalf), His Holiness is the last and only refuge, not even Umay-lam any more, making His Holiness their shield, and yet not willing to admit it. Till date, Lukar Jam has been the only one that visibly and sincerely attempts to fulfill His Holiness wishes and aspirations for the exile Tibetans to be self-reliant and independent of him.
Some unscrupulous rascals spread vicious rumors online that Lukar was imprisoned for stealing a yak, and their confederates mis-copied it as a horse, which alone shows how hollow their accusations are. Lukar’s reason for arrest and imprisonment is for “splittist activities” for establishing an underground Tibetan youth organization for Rangzen, which is well-documented by TCHRD. Such blatant and gross untruth is an insult to all the Tibetan martyrs who have sacrificed for the cause of our nation!
Some nitpickers have found language problems with Lukar Jam. One is that he doesn’t know English. While such trivial concerns don’t deserve a serious response, it may be worth reminding some the value of Tibetan language, in which he is so proficient that very few in exile can parallel. Those that misconceive that English is a precondition to become a Sikyong are certainly poor in Tibetan (and most probably in English too), because the premise to this logic has to be that Tibetan language is incapable of political discourses. Those who closely follow Lukar speaking would realize our language that we keep hearing from the CTA officials that are so monotonous and templated are actually so beautiful, rich and sophisticated. For me, for this reason alone it is worth hearing his speeches. Lukar’s prime-ministership will also hugely benefit the Tibetan language promotion drive that we’ve been striving for all these years in our schools in exile.
On the other hand, Lukar Jam’s fluency in Chinese is ignored. This makes it clear the true motive behind this complaint. It’s a huge bonus for a Sikyong to know the language of the enemy, far better than one that knows English and has to obtain information from third parties that the accuracy of the information can’t be guaranteed.
Another “concern” related to his language is his Amdo accent. Actually his accent is not purely Amdo, it has already been well hybridized. Those who complain about this actually have never seriously attempted to lend their ears. If this is so, then why majority people who are not from Amdo can understand perfectly while only few cannot? Even if it is not understandable (though it actually is), this cannot be a reason to put hurdles on his way to becoming a Sikyong. The powerful Chinese communist leader Deng Xiaoping, who is credited with the Chinese economic development hailed from Sichuan Province, where the dialect is very different from the rest of China, and Chinese people could hardly grasp his accent, yet he could do the work well.
The author resides in Tibet and is using a pseudonym to protect his identity.
By José Elías Esteve Moltó (University of Valencia, Institute of Human Rights)
The Supreme Court's ruling 296/2015 and the return to pre-Nuremberg days
1.- The due process: from the National Court's Central Court nº 2 to the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court ruling 296/2015 (appeal nº 1682/2014) of 6 May 2015 is an attempt to the definitive death blow to universal justice in Spain and ratifies in all its assumptions the fateful legal reform promoted by the Popular Party's Government in constitutional Law 1/2014. To start with, it must not be forgotten that the motivation for this legislative reform was based solely and exclusively on extralegal arguments: to defend at all costs Spain's national debt and commercial and economic interests with China, the great world power. A brief review of the due process of this matter in hand confirms these facts without a doubt.
The case began with the presentation of a lawsuit in the National Court on 28 June 2005, with the Comité de Apoyo al Tíbet (CAT) exercising popular action, seconded by the Fundación Casa del Tíbet, and with Thubten Wangchen as private prosecution. Several Chinese leaders were accused of having committed crimes of genocide, torture, state terrorism and crimes against humanity. The most important of the accused were: Jiang Zemin, former president of China, secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and maximum authority of the People's Liberation Army until 2003, and Li Peng, former prime minister during the repression in Tibet in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
On 27 July 2005 the public prosecution issued a report invoking the Supreme Court's thesis in its ruling of 8 March 2004, and declaring: "it does not correspond to any state to concern itself unilaterally with establishing order, by resorting to criminal law, against all others in the world, but it is necessary instead for there to be a point of connection that legitimizes the extraterritorial scope of its jurisdiction", adding that a broad understanding of universal justice like that to which the lawsuit aspired, led to "a disproportionate interpretation of national sovereignty" and could unleash a series of "consequences not always desirable from the perspective of juridical safety". This restrictive interpretation of the principle of universal jurisdiction was seconded by the Central Investigative Court Nº 2, following the argument in the public prosecution's report, which stated that Spanish jurisdiction "is not competent to try the case as none of the accused have Spanish nationality or are in Spanish territory, nor has Spain refused their extradition, and also, there does not seem to be any connection with Spanish national interests in direct relation to these crimes" (writ of non-acceptance of 5 September 2005, preliminary proceedings 237/2005. Central Investigative Court Nº 2 National Court). This resolution was immediately appealed at the National Court's Criminal Court.
The Fourth Section (Appeal Court) of the National Court's Criminal Court, in charge of resolving the matter, set the hearing for 13 October 2005. However, a few days before the hearing, a ruling was issued that would affect the case irrevocably. The Constitutional Court's famous ruling of 26 September 2005 resolving the appeal for protection in the case of the Guatemala genocide, by fully stressing the motive for the appeal, rescinded the scheduled hearing and postponed it sine die. As a result of the existence of various cases pending in the National Court, and with the aim of unifying criteria regarding universal jurisdiction, this decision was remanded to the Plenary Court of the Criminal Court, giving rise to the controversial agreement of non jurisdiction of 3 November 2005. Once the Constitutional Court and the National Court's Plenary Court had declared their positions, a ruling on 21 November set the hearing of the appeal for 14 December, at which the plaintiff reiterated the request that the appeal be accepted (this time adding the grounds of law in the Constitutional Court's ruling to the arguments already laid out in the appeal), while the public prosecution maintained its request that the lawsuit be shelved definitively, and ended by declaring that this legal initiative was an abuse of law.
Finally, the ruling of 10 January 2006 by the Fourth Section of the National Court's Criminal Court ended by declaring Spanish jurisdiction competent in the case of the genocide of the Tibetan people, without conditioning it to any element of national connection, thereby following what the Constitutional Court had established. The ruling declared that the acts denounced "constitute the crime of genocide as established in Article 2 c) and d) of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: the former, regarding the intentional subjection of the group to conditions of existence that could lead to their physical destruction, in part or in full, and the latter, to the adoption of measures aimed at preventing births within the group". (Ruling of 6 January 2006, Fourth Section of the National Court's Criminal Court, Roll of Appeal 196/05, Preliminary Proceedings 237/05). It is also important to emphasise that the National Court's judges mentioned the nonexistent possibilities of the case being tried by the International Criminal Court, as on one hand Article 11 of the Treaty of Rome of 17 July 1998 establishes that this court is only competent to try crimes committed after it entered into force (and the acts denounced in the lawsuit took place prior to 1998), and on the other hand, they declared that "neither China nor, naturally, Tibet are party of said Statute, nor is there any evidence whatsoever of China accepting the competence of said Court, with the result that no reply can be expected from said jurisdictional international body".
The last of the elements examined in the ruling before its final pronouncement refers to the so-called test of reasonableness, which we mention here as the Supreme Court resorted to it repeatedly in this ruling. This criterion owes its origin to the ruling of non jurisdiction issued on 3 November 2005 by the Plenary Court of the National Court's Criminal Court, which had met to unify criteria regarding universal jurisdiction after the Constitutional Court's ruling on the Guatemala case. Said ruling states: "Once the court has confirmed that the case meets the conditions required by internal juridical procedures, and has ruled out any jurisdictional action either in the place where the supposed crime was committed or by the international community, jurisdiction should, as a rule, be accepted unless an excessive abuse of law is detected in the absolute non-connection of the matter due to its concerning crimes and places that are completely strange and/or distant and the plaintiff cannot show any proof of direct interest or relation to them".
In this Tibetan case, the judges of the Fourth Section of the Criminal Court interpreted the above criteria solely with the aim of preventing an abuse of law, but they argued that in no case could this argument be used as a pretext for continuing to leave international crimes unpunished, and more so under a postulate as subjective as it was unusual, in a reference to the crime or place where the acts are committed being "a strange and/or distant place". They warned about the danger of this requirement being interpreted with the intention of shelving the Tibet lawsuit (as it is not very close to Spain nor does it have a direct connection to Spain), an argument that was clear in the hearing of the appeal, which was contrary not only to the wording of Article 23.4 of the Law of Judicial Procedure (and the recent ruling by the Constitutional Court), but also to the principle of legality (Article 9.3 in relation to Article 25.1 of the Spanish Constitution) and the right to effective legal protection (Article 24.1 of the Spanish Constitution) and equality before the law (Article 14.1).
Fortunately, at the first opportunity the National Court judges had to state their opinion and interpret that criterion of reasonableness, they declared in favour of the fight against impunity, ruling in favour of the appeal and concluding on this Tibetan case that, "given the facts described in detail in the lawsuit together with the important accompanying documents, it is clear that not only do the acts denounced constitute a crime of genocide that should be investigated by Spanish jurisdiction following the arguments above, but also that this jurisdictional body is competent to accept and process the lawsuit that was initially thrown out under postulates and principles established by the Constitutional Court's ruling of 26 September 2005”.
As a result of the lawsuit being accepted, the plaintiff asked the court to initiate preliminary proceedings, and from the start Chinese diplomatic pressure on the case has been public and manifest. On 5 June 2006 the first victim in the Tibetan case appeared in court before the National Court judge, which led to loud protests from the Chinese Government through the spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Liu Jianchao, who declared to the international press that the investigation into so-called international crimes committed in Tibet was "complete slander, an absolute lie" and obeyed secessionist intentions orchestrated by "the Dalai Lama's clique".
On 1 September 2010 the plaintiff presented another document, extending the lawsuit against the same persons accused of serious violations of the Geneva Conventions. In a ruling on 30 March 2011 the extension of the juridical classification of the acts denounced was accepted to include war crimes, in reference to the transfer of Chinese population to Tibetan territory; i.e., transfer by the occupying power to the occupied territory, which is a serious violation of Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention, which states in its last paragraph: "The occupying power will not proceed to evacuate or transfer part of its own civilian population to the territory it occupies."
On 20 March 2013, in a further document, the plaintiff extended the lawsuit to include Hu Jintao, former president of the People's Republic of China, who had ceased in his post on 15 March 2013. In a ruling on 9 October 2013 the Fourth Section of the National Court's Criminal Court agreed to extend the lawsuit to include the former Chinese leader as "his diplomatic immunity had expired". On 8 January 2014 the court ruled to issue rogatory commissions to the popular authorities of the People's Republic of China, for them to notify Hu Jintao of the lawsuit and take his deposition as an accused.
In a writ on 18 November 2013, the Fourth Section of the National Court's Criminal Court ruled that international warrants of arrest were to be issued so as to extradite the accused, and on 10 February 2014 the Central Investigative Court Nº 2 issued international arrest warrants in order to take the depositions of the accused, and to extradite the former leaders of the Chinese Republic.
As a result of Chinese diplomatic pressure, the Law 1/2014 of 13 March modified Article 23.4 of the Law of Judicial Procedure for a second time. Soon afterwards, in a writ on 20 March 2014, the public prosecution ordered the proceedings to be concluded and the case remanded to the National Court's Criminal Court for it to declare itself "on the concurrence of the new requirements" imposed by the legislative reform; in adherence to the new wording that the Law 1/2014 gave Article 23.4 of the Law of Judicial Procedure on the requirements and conditions of the principle of universal jurisdiction.
Finally, in a ruling on 25 March 2014 the Central Investigative Court Nº 2 ordered that the proceedings be concluded and the case remanded to the National Court's Criminal Court. In reply, the plaintiff submitted a document on 18 May 2014 arguing strongly for revoking the closing of the proceedings, as indispensable proceedings had not been practised and, as a result, the case should be remanded to the investigative court, and in a subsidiary request, that the court rule in favour of holding oral hearings. With respect to the two rulings, the plaintiff asked the Court to consult the Constitutional Court regarding the constitutionality of the previous ruling.
Though the court did not proceed to question this matter, the Socialist parliamentary group did question the constitutionality of the reform, and submitted an appeal of unconstitutionality, which was accepted by the Constitutional Court on 23 July 2014.
After the plaintiff's request of 18 May 2014 was admitted and sent to the Second Section of the National Court's Criminal Court to be studied, the decision was remanded to the Plenary Court of the Criminal Court, the majority of whose judges ruled on 2 July 2014 in favour of "dismissing and closing this case", while two of them cast personal votes against.
2.- Grounds of law invoked by the High Court
In a series of introductory paragraphs, the residing judge Conde Pumpido foreshadowed what would be his terrible verdict for the victims of international crimes, giving his blessing to the legal reform of the Law 1/2014 and applying it to its strictest consequences. One can see from the start a contradiction between the definition of universal jurisdiction and the scope it should have. On one hand, universal jurisdiction is recognized as being "particularly detrimental for the essential interests of the international community", and as a result "consists in the exercise of criminal jurisdiction by the courts of a specific country in particularly serious international crimes, based on the nature of the crime without taking into consideration either the place where the crime was committed or the nationality of its perpetrator."
But while the gravity of the crime and its universal character point to this exceptional jurisdiction, which considers humanity in its entirety a protected juridical good, that same universality is disregarded when the second paragraph states: "that does not mean they are obliged to extend said jurisdiction to persons outside their territory." The ruling also alludes to international criminal law in generic terms and ends by saying there is no treaty obligation for states to pursue these heinous international crimes. What is striking is that forbidding genocide is a rule of imperative law or ius cogens (as the International Court of Justice has stated repeatedly), yet the necessary judicial measures are not put in place for its subsequent persecution. Quite the contrary: the High Court insists on an interpretation that protects state interests to the detriment of the victims of international crimes. Moreover, this state wilfulness, which was denounced in its day by the judge of the International Court of Justice, Cançado Trindade, is invoked and defended in the name of the rule of law. Specifically, the sixth grounds of law states: "the fight against impunity in international criminal law cannot be at the expense of the essential guarantees of the rule of law." One might well ask why and for whom was this international criminal law drawn up? To protect the victims or those who committed genocide? To fight impunity or guarantee it to our economic and commercial partners and allies?
It is also surprising that, with an appeal pending on the unconstitutionality of the reform of universal justice, accepted by the Constitutional Court on 23 July 2014, as mentioned above, the Supreme Court should declare itself openly, thereby interfering in this matter, and reaching conclusions such as: "The 2014 reform is not unconstitutional as it does not violate the principle of equality, the prohibition of arbitrariness, or the fundamental right to effective judicial protection."
The antecedents of this verdict, which describe in brief the above-mentioned due process, state in the first antecedent that the acts in the lawsuit "restrict themselves to the supposed crimes committed as a result of the People's Republic of China's authority in Tibet, and its military occupation from 1950 to 1979." The first grounds of law reiterates: "These proceedings investigated the apparent crimes committed as a result of Tibet's occupation by the People's Republic of China from 1950 to 1979."
These declarations clearly show that none of the judges of the Supreme Court, let alone the presiding judge Conde Pumpido, have ever actually read the lawsuit. Said lawsuit insists repeatedly that in order not to violate the principle of legality, later invoked by the verdict in question, only acts committed after 1971 are denounced, even though conclusive proof existed and the reports by the International Commission of Jurists at the UN General Assembly since the 1950s showed conclusively that genocide had been committed against the Tibetan people since 1950. Even so, the lawsuit states that the date of 1971 was chosen because the crime of genocide was incorporated into Spain's internal law after it ratified the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in law 44/1971. Thus, after 15 November 1971 Article 136 bis of the former Criminal Code allowed Spain to pursue acts corresponding to this crime; a fact that was clearly unknown to the Supreme Court, which divides the ninth grounds of law in its verdict into the following conceptual sections:
b) Legislative and jurisprudential evolution
This section of the verdict begins by stating that Spain has had three constitutional laws concerning this matter, all of which have evolved over time. The tenth grounds of law describes the Constitutional Law of 1985, which the Supreme Court calls into question despite said law's clear understanding of the absolute nature of universal jurisdiction, arguing that "the regulation let it be understood that at least in certain types of crime, the legislator started with the implicit assumption that those responsible were in Spain." This opinion is hardly surprising, as from the beginning, as this same legal reasoning states, this interpretation by the Supreme Court was clear in its verdict on the Guatemala case, "both the majority verdict, and the personal vote". Moreover, they consider that the requirement for "national interest as a legitimizing element" was endorsed by the Constitutional Court's ruling on the Guatemala case, when in fact this ruling was precisely what opened he door for the victims of international crimes, such as this Tibetan case.
The 13th grounds of law reiterates the same idea of there being a national connection, subsequently adopted in the 2009 reform to universal justice, and links it to what seems to be a sacrosanct principle of greater juridical value than ius cogens, namely, the "criterion of reasonableness". To describe this criterion not contemplated in the law, the Supreme Court cites the same arguments as the 21 November 2005 ruling by the Plenary Court of the National Court's Criminal Court (which met after the Constitutional Court's ruling on the Guatemala case) to justify that the "value of the citizens of the state exercising universal jurisdiction is a reasonable criterion of self-limitation to prevent the proliferation of cases involving completely strange and/or distant crimes and places, together with the excessive use of the national jurisdictional bodies whose competence is claimed (...) because in cases completely lacking any connection with the country or the acts denounced, in the wide sense expressed above, the proceedings may have zero practical effectiveness."
Moreover, the residing judge Conde Pumpido again focuses on the Constitutional Court's interpretation of universal justice, even though the appeal presented by the socialist M.P.s is still pending resolution, and not satisfied with this margin of appreciation, in the 16th grounds of law criticizes the fact that in its day the Constitutional Court's verdict on the Guatemala case was interpreted erroneously. Thus, he laments the acceptance of the Falun Gong and Couso cases: deviations that the 2009 reform tried to correct, as it is not possible "to be unaware of the problems a broad interpretation of universal jurisdiction is having on Spain's international relations". However, the Supreme Court again regrets in its 17th grounds of law that "the effectiveness of this reform was not restrictive enough", and on this occasion does not miss the chance to criticize "popular action and the broad - some would say fraudulent - interpretation of the concept of Spanish victims."
Following this line of argument, he ends by criticizing the Tibetan case in its entirety and defending the 2014 reform. Reading some of these paragraphs one is not surprised at appraisals with a very political slant, which seem to evoke echoes of the bitter arguments in the Congress and Senate during the drawing up of the Law 1/2014, which only the Popular politicians defended. The ruling goes on to say regarding the Tibetan case: "This is the case of the proceedings in question, which investigate crimes supposedly committed in China over a period of more than 50 years (the occupation of Tibet, following China's civil war, took place in 1950, 65 years ago), with little procedural viability, the instruction having already lasted ten years without any important advances, and where it is not easy to show an important connecting link with our jurisdiction. Proceedings that also, despite their scarce effectiveness, continued giving rise to problems in Spain's international relations due to the lack of clear justification for continuing the process in strict terms of international law." Fortunately it ends saying, "with this reform, regulating universal jurisdiction in our country has reached its culmination for the moment" (grounds of law 19 and 20), which has confirmed the closing of the Tibet case (grounds of law 20).
These last appraisals imply that "problems in Spain's international relations" were being caused. Indeed, the ruling on 9 October 2013 by the Fourth Section of the National Court's Criminal Court agreeing to charge former Chinese president Hu Jintao with genocide, and the ruling of 18 November 2013 agreeing to issue international arrest warrants against the Chinese leaders, respectively, sparked a diplomatic offensive by Beijing. Zhu Weiqun, president of China's Committee of Religious and Ethnic Matters, the top parliamentary advisory body, called the case 'absurd' in declarations published by official Chinese media, adding, "If the court of any country takes this matter up it will bring enormous shame on itself. Let them go ahead, if they dare!" (China calls Spain's arrest warrants for Tibet, absurd. Wednesday 20 November 2013, http://es.reuters.com/article/topNews/idESMAE9AJ01H20131120). Likewise, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hong Lei, said that Beijing would strongly oppose the decision of the court, ending: "We urge Spain to face China's serious position, modify its erroneous decision, repair the grave damage and abstain from sending erroneous messages to the Tibetan independence forces and from upsetting Sino-Spanish relations."
Beijing has also expressed its discontent with the lawsuit to the Spanish ambassador in China, Manuel Valencia, and has threatened possible economic reprisals at a moment when Spain wishes to strengthen relations to attract more Chinese investments and reduce its large trade deficit with the Asian country. (REINOSO: China makes veiled threats to Spain because of the arrest warrant against Jiang Zemin. The spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry thinks this incident will affect bilateral relations. EL PAÍS, 11 February 2014).
In view of China's public acts of pressure on the Spanish Government, it is quite clear that the motive behind the reform of Article 23.4 of the Law of Judicial Procedure has been China's threats. The proof lies in its appearing repeatedly in national and international media (Popular Party forces a reform to close the investigation against top-ranking Chinese leaders FERNANDO GAREA / MIGUEL GONZALEZ Madrid 22 January 2014; Miguel González, "The Government will reform the law in order to deactivate the investigation into the Chinese regime. The extent of universal jurisdiction will be restricted a second time", El País, 15 December 2013 at http://politica.elpais.com/politica/2013/12/15/actualidad/1387130940_131381.html?rel=rosEP)
When asked about the reform in Law 1/2014 of 13 March in an interview on the TV programme El Debate de la 1 on 10 April 2014, the Spanish foreign minister Margallo declared in minute 30 of the interview that China had 20% of Spain's national debt and that these cases were dangerous from the point of view of international relations. Moreover, he declared with disdain that some judge had decided to issue international arrest warrants against Chinese authorities, and Spain could not become a "universal sheriff". He added that these proceedings were not effective investigations, but rather "playing to the gallery, which does not put an end to impunity". Also, he suggested that "the judges would do better to close (the case) and speed justice up".
Lastly, the Supreme Court questions the efficacy of this process. But if it was so ineffective, why such a hurry to proceed with a legislative reform and thus close the Tibet case? An act that was received with praise and public thanks by the Beijing Government.
c) Conflict of regulations between the Law of Judicial Procedure and the Treaties. International Treaty Criminal Law
The 21st grounds of law then briefly denies the existence of universal jurisdiction for pursuing crimes of genocide and torture, before concluding that the various treaties do not establish an imperative nature of the universal persecution of crimes, and thus the reform of Law 1/2014 does not violate Article 96 of the Spanish Constitution in any way.
The Supreme Court's strict interpretation differs from the fundamental aim of these international treaties, which was remembered by the International Court of Justice and which despite being mentioned in the appeal was in the end ignored. In the U.N. General Assembly's Resolution 96 (1) of 11 December 1946, the International Court of Justice declared that "the origins of the Treaty show that the United Nations intended to condemn and punish genocide as a crime of international law that involves denying the right of entire human groups to exist, a denial that shocks the conscience of the world, leads to great losses for humanity, and goes against moral law and the spirit and objectives of the United Nations. As a result, the Court continued, "the principles that inspired the Treaty are recognized by civilized nations as obligatory for states, even those without any kind of treaty obligation"; to which it added the clear affirmation of the "universal nature of both the condemnation of genocide and the necessary cooperation to free humanity from such a hateful scourge". Going a step further, the International Court of Justice went on to say explicitly a few years later that from all the above arguments it was an undeniable conclusion that "the rights and obligations enshrined in the Treaty are "erga omnes" rights and obligations", (ICJ: Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. Preliminary exceptions. (Bosnia, Herzegovina, vs. Yugoslavia), ICJ Reports 1996, paragraph 31) and therefore their violation by one state produces damage to all other states (ICJ Asunto Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company Ltd. [1970, 2ª fase] CIJ Receuil des arréts, avis consultatifs et ordonnances de la CIJ 1970, paragraphs 30, 33, 34), and the court warned: "the obligation of each state to prevent and punish the crime of genocide is not limited by the territoriality of the treaty". In 2007 the International Court of Justice reiterated this argument, regarding the Application of the Treaty to Prevent and Punish the Crime of Genocide, background (Bosnia Herzegovina vs. Serbia and Montenegro) that the prohibition of genocide is customary international law, as it is considered an international crime, adding that as the regulation prohibiting genocide is an imperative rule of general international law (ius cogens), the "nature of the prohibition of genocide and the objective of the Treaty are both important for interpreting the second proposition put forward in Article 1, namely, the duty of Treaty parties to prevent and punish the crime of genocide".
To conclude, the imperative obligation of general international law to universally pursue the crime of genocide cannot be limited, restricted or eliminated by any conditions established in any internal law, i.e., given the above-mentioned obligation, the wish that in future Spanish courts only pursue the crime of genocide if the accused is a Spanish citizen, a foreigner who is habitually a resident in Spain, or a foreigner who is on Spanish soil and whose extradition has been refused.
d) Comparative law. Customary International Criminal Law
In its 22nd grounds of law the Supreme Court describes the internal legislations of Germany, Japan, Turkey, France, Great Britain, Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands, Canada and the United States before concluding that: "In short, the international custom or practice generally accepted as customary law does not endorse the demand for an absolute or unconditional model of universal justice like the one contemplated in our legislation in the original version of the Law of Judicial Procedure". Moreover, to add consistency to this argument the Supreme Court turns in its 23rd grounds of law to the fact that in 2003 Belgium, too, modified its law on universal justice, although once again deliberately ignoring the extralegal reasons that led to said modification.
e) Jurisdiction on war crimes.
One of the most controversial points in the verdict concerns war crimes, which in its day led to a personal vote when the case was rejected by the Plenary Court of the National Court's Criminal Court. After the third grounds of law, the ruling warns about the constitutionality of the reform of universal justice regarding this limitation to what is established in the Geneva Conventions and does not involve any discrimination against the victims or violate their effective judicial protection.
The court now returns to this matter and the 24th grounds of law states: "it should be established clearly and firmly, for this and other similar cases, that section p) of Article 23 4º of the Law of Judicial Procedure is not applicable to cases already specifically regulated under the earlier sections of the precept, namely, crimes against persons and goods that are protected in cases of armed conflict."
The 27th grounds of law then interprets the Geneva Conventions in a radically different way to how the National Court's Central Investigative Courts have done so up to now and after the reform and which has enabled them to continue investigating various cases. The Supreme Court is restrictive regarding the possible conflict between international law and the internal reform of universal justice: "But it is important to declare that the wording of Article 23 4ª a) of the Law of Judicial Procedure does not violate the Geneva Convention. This obligation refers to cases when the perpetrators are in the territory of the signatory state, as its content and objective are to prevent any of the perpetrators from finding refuge in a country that has signed the Convention (...) the expression 'search and bring to trial in its own courts' refers necessarily, according to the literal and grammatical interpretation of the precept, to searching within the state's own territory. To 'search, extradite and bring to trial in its own courts' would be the correct formula if the aim was to establish a general obligation to search in any country in the world, even for non belligerent countries completely unconnected to the armed conflict where the crime is thought to have been committed".
Moreover, some of the Supreme Court's declarations are startling, as the literal meaning of Article 146 of the 4th Geneva Convention and its interpretation by the International Red Cross lead to radically contradictory conclusions. Also, the Supreme Court goes a step further and calls the absolute universal persecution of serious violations of the Geneva Conventions "a system of clandestine interference in other countries, kidnapping and transferring the accused without abiding by the legal procedure of extradition, which would be a serious violation of international law, and obviously cannot be the system agreed to in the Geneva Convention."
The conclusion in the 29th grounds of law may bring down some of the cases still open in the National Court, such as the Couso case, as it warns: "As a result, and to make it clear in this and other similar proceedings with similar bases, under the current Constitutional Law 1/2014, Spanish courts lack the jurisdiction to investigate and bring to trial crimes against persons and goods protected in armed conflicts committed abroad, except in those cases when the proceedings are directed against a Spaniard, a foreigner habitually resident in Spain, or a foreigner who is in Spain and whose extradition has been denied by the Spanish authorities. Said jurisdiction cannot be extended "in absentia" depending on the nationality of the victim or any other circumstance."
In the light of this verdict by the Supreme Court, the public prosecution of the National Court will probably soon resort to it in order to request the closing of some of the proceedings, such as the Couso case. Again in light of this verdict, perhaps some of the arguments put forward earlier should now be looked at again, such as that of the judge of the Central Investigative Court Nº 1, Santiago Pedráz, who in the Couso case warned openly that the new Article 23.4 of the Law of Judicial Procedure contradicted Article 146 of the 4th Geneva Convention, and therefore "closing the case is not applicable" (Writ of 17 March 2014, proceedings 27/2007, Central Investigative Court Nº 1, National Court).
f) Final considerations
Lastly, in its 30th grounds of law, the Supreme Court goes over all its earlier arguments, and concludes in the 31st grounds of law that the retro-activity of Constitutional Law 1/2014 is necessary for basic constitutional reasons, and that "the Criminal Code in force recognizes the retroactive effect of criminal legislation that is more favourable to the accused - as in the current case". Lastly, the Supreme Court does not miss the opportunity to critizise once again the cases of universal justice carried out in Spain, as: "the only restriction they establish is the exclusion of opening proceedings 'in absentia', and from the experience gained in the National Court after applying universal jurisdiction for 30 years (1985-2015), these cases do not usually end in a trial (...) It is worth remembering that in the current case the effectiveness of the proceedings, after ten years' investigation, is almost zero." Once again, if these proceedings were so harmless and inefficient, why have they given rise to two such important and far-reaching legal reforms?
The Supreme Court then resorts again to the criterion of reasonableness, this time to state: "It is not reasonable to maintain 'sine die' legal proceedings lacking any foreseeable effectiveness, except in cases when the accused perpetrators are displaced temporarily to Spain". This particular argument could be wielded to keep these proceedings open and also to prevent the perpetrators of genocide from coming fearlessly to our country to subscribe to juicy trade agreements.
As a grand finale, the 43rd grounds of law strengthens the criterion that Spanish courts should be an "island", unconnected from all that is happening in international order, as "the criterion that Spanish courts do not obtain their jurisdiction from customary or international treaty law, but from the principle of democracy, the Spanish Constitution and the laws passed by Parliament, [a criterion] already established by this Supreme Court, should be restated in this case, and as a result the allegations of unconstitutionality should be rejected, and the range of our jurisdiction in this matter should adhere to what is established by the legislator in Organic Law 1/2014." So we should forget that we are part of the international community, and that, as a state, we are part of the International Criminal Court's Statute of Rome, which was approved by Spain on 18 July 1998 and ratified on 24 October 2000, and establishes in its preamble that "It is the obligation of every state to exercise its criminal jurisdiction against those responsible of international crimes". And as a result let us end by uprooting any regulation or principle that is based on or inspired by the Nuremberg Principles, and let us welcome the new era of the 'Spain' brand and of kowtowing to China's de facto power and the large corporate interests that irremediably sow democratic ruin and violate the freedoms of European citizens and all of humanity.
 Auto 16 de enero de 2006, sección Cuarta de la Sala de lo Penal de la Audiencia Nacional, Rollo de Apelación 196/05, Diligencias Previas 237/05, Décimo Fundamento de Derecho.
(October 2015) - We, the undersigned 27 long-time Tibet Supporters, are writing to you to express our concern about several recent events relating to the current Tibetan Election processes.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has worked tirelessly to implement democracy in the Tibetan polity and has expressed many times the personal and national satisfaction felt in his voluntarily turning over political control to elected officials, stating in his retirement message: "Contrary to the system of the Chinese Communists' authoritarian rule in Tibet, our small community in exile has been able to establish a complete modern democratic system. In the long run this decision will make our exile administration stronger and efficient. [...] This is our glorious achievement. Tibetans inside Tibet should be proud of this achievement."
We are very appreciative of his work in this regard and the import of his retirement message, which states that every Tibetan in exile has the right to participate in free and fair elections of officials entrusted not only with the duty of governance in exile but also charged with the higher responsibility of working for a better future for the long-suffering nation of Tibet. In particular we believe that every Tibetan has the right to hold and express their view as to the future of Tibet.
We are therefore concerned that:
The problems that may arise from such undemocratic practices are many and serious. By providing means for incumbents to silence opponents before the polls open and to arbitrarily and retroactively make decisions on key rules, the Central Tibetan Administration risks becoming regarded by its people, the host nation of India, its international support base, and the international community, as an undemocratic body unworthy of trust. Even more seriously, such practices leave open the possibility of CTA posts being taken by people who become unaccountable to a free and fair popular vote and therefore able to act without the approval - or even against the will - of the Tibetan people.
The continuing support for the Tibetan cause by ourselves and many others worldwide is, partly but significantly, based on the Central Tibetan Administration honoring both the spirit and practice of His Holiness's efforts to implement true democracy in the Tibetan polity, signified by an irreproachable public trust in free, fair, non-partisan election processes. We urge you to make early (i.e. before the Preliminary election) positive responses to all our concerns outlined above.
His Holiness and the CTA have, on many occasions, requested all the world to help Tibet, and expressed their appreciation for the assistance given by Tibet Supporters and Tibet Support Groups around the world - we who answered the call. That continuing support should not be wholly taken for granted.
John Ackerly, Former President, International Campaign for Tibet, USA
Anders Højmark Andersen, Member of Tibet Support Committee, Denmark
Agurtzane Berasarte, Co-Founder and General Secretary, Phagma Drolma Association for Solidarity for the Tibetan People, Basque Country
Christophe Besuchet, Co-Founder, Comité de Soutien au Peuple Tibétain, Switzerland
Alan Cantos, CAT - Comite de Apoyo al Tibet, Spain
Philippa Carrick, Chief Executive Officer, Tibet Society, UK
Jack Churchward, Former CACCP Coordinator, USA
Florence Cotte, Militante Pour Un Tibet Libre, France
Monika Deimann-Clemens, 24 years TSG Germany; Tibet Flag Campaign, Germany
Angela Dempster-Passang, Member of SFT New Zealand, University of Otago Chapter, New Zealand
Dan Haig, Founder of Tibet Online, Past-President of Committee of 100 for Tibet, USA
Eva Herzer, Former President, Tibet Justice Center, USA
John Hocevar, Founder of Students for a Free Tibet and Former Co-Chairman of International Tibet Support Network (ITSN), USA
Jeff Inglis, Member of Tibet Justice Center, USA
Neville Jacobs, Member of Tibet Committee of Fairbanks, USA
Blake Kerr MD, Independent Human Rights Investigator, USA
Linda Mancini, Member of Boston Tibet Network, USA
José Elias Esteve Moltó, Main Research Lawyer and Author of Tibet Lawsuits, Professor of International Law, University of Valencia, Spain
Olivier Mores, Co-Founder and Honorary President, Les Amis du Tibet, Luxembourg
Rebecca Novick, Former President, Board Member and Consultant, Los Angeles Friends of Tibet; Founding Producer, The Tibet Connection; Country of Origin Information Expert on Tibet for Fahamu Refugee Programme, USA
Anthony O'Brien, Co-Founder of TSG-Ireland, Co-Founder of ECO-Tibet, Ireland
Jean-Paul Ribes, President, Comité de Soutien au Peuple Tibétain, France
Conrad Richter, Former Editor of World Tibet News (WTN), Canada
Sandra Ross, Director, Member of US Tibet Committee, USA
Elliot Sperling, Professor of Tibetan Studies, Indiana University, USA
Neil Steedman, Founder Chairman of TSG-Ireland, Co-Founder of ITSN, Member of Committee of 100 for Tibet, Ireland
Giovanni Vassallo, President of Bay Area Friends of Tibet, Past-President of Committee of 100 for Tibet, USA
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