“In bed with China”: Bed protest at InterContinental flagship hotel on eve of IHG quarterly results (pictures)

Monday, 5 August 2013

The entrance to the InterContinental Westminster hotel in London was blocked by a double bed this morning as Tibet activists protested against plans by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) to build a luxury hotel in occupied Lhasa, Tibet. In the bed, activists wearing masks of IHG Chief Executive Richard Solomons and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged money bags, while the sheet over the bed bore the slogan “IHG: selling out Tibet” (pictures, 1). The action was organised by Free Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet UK as part of an international boycott campaign against InterContinental hotels, launched in May this year. Demonstrations have already taken place outside other InterContinental hotels in London and New York, (2, 3), and Free Tibet’s campaign video has been viewed more than 15,000 times (4). Protesters in the bed briefly blocked the hotel’s main entrance and then moved onto the pavement outside the hotel. The campaigners maintain that the company’s presence and its naming of the hotel as the “Lhasa Paradise” is a propaganda gift to a Chinese regime which is responsible for gross human rights abuses throughout Tibet, and severe repression, surveillance and denial of human rights in Lhasa in particular (5). The campaigners also believe that the hotel and its business facilities may be used by the authorities to discuss and implement further repressive measures. Campaigners met with IHG’s company secretary George Turner in July, where they spelled out their concerns and the risks to IHG as a business arising from opening a hotel in occupied Lhasa; scene of intense protests and extensive property destruction in 2008. The campaigners argued that IHG will rely on China’s continued repression of local Tibetans in order to operate a successful and profitable business. Mr Turner and other IHG executives had no substantive answers to the charges in the meeting. IHG has extensive business interest in China and their quarterly results are due to be released tomorrow (6 August). Free Tibet Director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said: “InterContinental’s choice to do business in China put its reputation at risk from day one. The decision to open a luxury super-hotel in Tibet in 2014 has blown a hole in its credibility as a responsible business. IHG is out of its depth in Tibet; ill-equipped or unwilling to recognise the impact of selling an illusion of paradise in an occupied country that is a global black spot for human rights abuse. Getting into bed with China may open up an important market but Tibet is not China and the sooner IHG recognises that, the better it will be for business. Now is the time for IHG to admit its mistake and pull out.” Students for a Free Tibet UK Executive Director Pema Dolma said: "More than 120 of my fellow Tibetans have self-immolated calling for an end to the Chinese rule. The 'Lhasa Paradise' will serve Chinese business and political interests only and is a gross insult to the Tibetan people. "Intercontinental's hotel in military-occupied Tibet is serving China's repressive regime and human rights abuses against Tibetans. More than 120 of my fellow Tibetans have self-immolated calling for an end to the Chinese rule. The 'Lhasa Paradise' will serve Chinese business and political interests only and is a gross insult to the Tibetan people.” For further information, photographs or comment, contact campaigns and media officer Alistair Currie: E: alistair@freetibet.org T: +44 (0)207 324 4605 Notes for editors (1) ) Photos available from Rex Features http://www.rexfeatures.com/livefeed/2013/08/05/protest_against_intercontinental_hotels_to_open_in_tibet,_london or Free Tibet https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.684492048233095.1073741830.138975109451461&type=3&uploaded=10 (2) http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/intercontinental-hotels-group-targeted-campaign-and-boycott-tibet-supporters; (3) http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/tibet-demonstration-targets-intercontinental-hotel-times-square (4) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFA8YnWqvbI&feature=youtu.be (5) US Department of State (2013) Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012: China http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?dynamic_load_id=204195&year=2012#wrapper