IHG chief executive targeted by Tibet campaigners at International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin
Campaigners display 3m poster of Richard Solomons asking him for answers on racist policy in Tibet, Tuesday 4 March.
Tibet campaigners staged an eye-catching demonstration yesterday outside the Berlin InterContinental hotel, the venue for the International Hotel Investment Forum. The campaigners from UK and German Tibet groups challenged InterContinental Hotels Group chief executive Richard Solomons over IHG’s failure to reply to questions about whether its forthcoming hotel in Lhasa, Tibet, will comply with racist security policies imposed on hotels in the city.
Campaigners outside the prestigious industry event carried a 3m x 1.5m banner featuring a picture of Mr Solomons, images of police in Tibet abusing Tibetan’s human rights and the words:
“Richard Solomons: will IHG’s Lhasa hotel follow China’s orders and report Tibetan guests to the police? Yes or no?” (image available, 1)
Hotel security attempted to block and take down the banner and summoned the police. As the demonstration was on the public footpath, however, the police were happy to let it continue.
Mr Solomons was scheduled to speak at the conference during the day, in a session entitled “what keeps an international hotel CEO awake at night?” Many delegates asked about the banner and campaign and the campaigners also distributed leaflets to delegates detailing the questions about its hotel that campaigners have repeatedly posed and the company has repeatedly refused to answer.
The banner’s question refers to a requirement by police in Lhasa for all hotels to notify them within 10 minutes if Tibetan guests arrive from certain "politically sensitive" areas. The hotels must then wait for the police to check on the individuals and give them permission to register. The policy does not apply to Han Chinese people from the same areas (2). IHG - which is due to open its luxury hotel in Lhasa within months - was first advised of the policy by campaigners in January and was sent a letter asking it to state whether it would comply with the policy on 7 February (3). It has yet to reply.
Tibet campaigners have also written to three other multinational hotel companies regarding the policy. In addition to IHG, the companies are Starwood (the St Regis and Four Points by Sheraton hotels in Lhasa), Wyndham Worldwide (Super 8 DuoDiLu hotel) (4) and Shangri-La who are due to open their hotel in Lhasa in April (5).
Starwood is the only company to reply so far, stating that it complies with national laws but it claims that registration policies do not discriminate between Tibetans and Chinese guests. The company will be contacted again and provided with further evidence supporting the racially discriminatory nature of the policy (6).
Free Tibet’s director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:
“We have asked IHG a simple question: will you comply with a racist policy abusing Tibetans’ human rights or won’t you? If Richard Solomons is a reasonable man, that should be the question that keeps him awake at night.
“If IHG complies with the policy it becomes an arm of China’s police state. If it doesn’t, it puts its own employees in Tibet at risk of imprisonment for defying the authorities. We have limited sympathy with the company’s predicament, however, because it was inevitable from the day it inked the deal to operate in one of the world’s most repressed countries. Mr Solomons needs to hold himself accountable for that decision and Tibet campaigners will be making their presence felt at IHG hotels and IHG events across the world until the company puts a stop to its plans in Lhasa.”
More information about the campaign and the hotel at www.freetibet.org/intercontinental
For more information or comment, contact Alistair Currie at Free Tibet
T: +44 (0)207 324 4605
Notes for editors
(1) See http://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/12925422174/ (pdf available from Free Tibet)
(2) Photograph of document (Chinese) and translation available from Free Tibet. Source: Chinese Twitter feed of highly respected Beijing-based Tibetan blogger Tsering Woeser. https://twitter.com/degewa/status/408181594642325504 (Woeser is a recipient of a US State Department’s Women of Courage Award 2013)
(3) Correspondence available from Free Tibet
(4) St Regis Lhasa Resort http://www.starwoodhotels.com/stregis/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=3129; Four Points by Sheraton http://www.starwoodhotels.com/fourpoints/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=3182; Super-8 Lhasa http://www.ramada.co.uk/hotels/china/lhasa/super-8-hotel-lhasa-duodilu/hotel-overview?partner_id=&hotel_id=45413&campaign_code=&propId=SE45413&checkout_date&brand_id=SE&children=0&corporate_id=&ratePlan=&teens=0&affiliate_id=&iata=&rate_code=&adults=1&checkin_date&rooms=1
(5) Shangri-La http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4063576.html
(6) Email dated 28 Feb 2014 – copy available from Free Tibet, Free Tibet press release http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/intercontinental-hotels-group-under-un-scrutiny-over-lhasa-hotel-plan Copies of correspondence available from Free Tibet
Free Tibet is an international campaigning organisation that stands for the right of Tibetans to determine their own future. We campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected. www.freetibet.org
Campaigners from Students for a Free Tibet also participated in the demonstration www.studentsforafreetibet.org