InterContinental hotels to face synchronised international Tibet demonstrations next week

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Beijing Olympics protest group joins Tibet groups internationally to target multinational’s luxury hotels

[New York & London] - Tibet campaigners will be coordinating protests on 5 November outside InterContinental hotels on at least four continents as part of the first global day of action against InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). The event comes as Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) - the campaign group, which made its mark with high-profile Olympic protests in 2008 - joins UK-based Free Tibet in leading the worldwide campaign calling on IHG to pull out of a deal to run a 1,000+ room luxury hotel in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. The ‘InterContinental Resort Lhasa Paradise’ is currently expected to open in 2014.

"InterContinental's plans to open a massive ‘luxury resort’ in Lhasa are not just offensive to Tibetans but a reputational nightmare for investors,” said Padma Dolma, Campaigns and Europe Director for Students for a Free Tibet. “China's flagrant humans rights abuses in Tibet were highlighted by several countries during the UN's review of China last week, yet InterContinental's executives want to continue with business as usual in Lhasa. Occupation is no vacation and as long as Tibetans live in fear of arrest, imprisonment and death for simply expressing their desire for freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama, Lhasa is no place for a UK-based company to open a luxury hotel.”

The protests, coordinated with the International Tibet Network, are timed to coincide with IHG’s release of its interim third quarter results on 5 November. The campaign has already sparked demonstrations outside InterContinental hotels in London, New York and Paris (1). On 5 November hotels in the Americas, Asia, Europe and Australasia will be targeted, with more to be confirmed. More details will be provided next week.

Formed in 1994 and headquartered in New York, SFT is a chapter-based network of young people and activists around the world. In the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, the group coordinated actions targeting the Olympic torch relay and hung banners on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Great Wall of China (2). SFT made headlines last week by hanging a banner on the UN building in Geneva before a session scrutinising China’s human rights record (3).]

Tibet campaign groups maintain that the company’s presence and its decision to name the hotel the ‘Lhasa Paradise’ bolsters the Chinese government’s attempts to whitewash its gross human rights abuses throughout Tibet, and severe repression and surveillance in Lhasa in particular (4). Campaigners also believe that the hotel and its business facilities may be used by the authorities to discuss and implement further repression in Tibet.

“IHG’s intransigence and ignorance has exhausted the patience of Tibet supporters. Next week’s protests are a warning to InterContinental that the Tibet movement is united in condemning its decision to open this hotel and the campaign will only grow until IHG’s board sees sense and pulls the company out of Lhasa,” said Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren. “An upscale international brand marketing the image of a Tibetan paradise to the world is exactly what China wants to see in the country it has occupied for 60 years. IHG’s investment may grease the wheels of its billion-dollar business in China but it’s also a sign that this company thinks it can do what it likes, where it likes.”

The campaign was launched in May this year with a protest outside the company’s Annual General Meeting in London (5). The international protests follow unproductive discussions between IHG executives and campaigners over the summer (6).

Contacts

Kate Woznow, Students for a Free Tibet, +1 917-601-0069 [New York]

Alistair Currie, Free Tibet, +44 (0)207 324 4605 [London] Alistair@freetibet.org

Padma Dolma, Students for a Free Tibet, +44 (0)740 244 2810 [London]

Notes for editors

1) London: http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/%E2%80%9C-bed-china%E2%80%9D-bed-protest-intercontinental-flagship-hotel-eve-ihg-quarterly-results; New York: http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/tibet-demonstration-targets-intercontinental-hotel-times-square; Paris: http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/tibet-protest-paris-hotel-caps-bad-week-intercontinental-hotels-group

2) http://freetibet2008.org/category/pressreleases and https://www.studentsforafreetibet.org/about-us/history

3) http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1337216/tibetans-protest-un-against-china-rights-abuses

4) 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

5) http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/intercontinental-hotels-group-targeted-campaign-and-boycott-tibet-supporters

6) http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/pr/intercontinental-hotels-group-executives-mute-human-rights-and-corporate

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

Students for a Free Tibet is a youth-based international campaigning organization that works in solidarity with the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom and independence. Through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action, it campaigns for Tibetans’ fundamental right to political freedom. www.studentsforafreetibet.org

The International Tibet Network is a coalition of more than 190 Tibet organisations dedicated to campaigning to end human rights violations in Tibet and restoring rights to the Tibetan people. www.tibetnetwork.org