InterContinental Hotels Group targeted for campaign and boycott by Tibet supporters

Friday, 24 May 2013

24 May 2013, for immediate use.

Multinational and its Chinese partners dubbed “parasites in paradise” over luxury Lhasa hotel

Free Tibet and Tibet groups internationally have today launched a global boycott campaign targeting InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) over its plan to open a hotel in Lhasa, the capital of occupied Tibet. Campaigners highlight the severe human rights abuses in Tibet and intense, ongoing protests against Chinese rule. They are demanding IHG’s withdrawal from Tibet because the hotel’s presence will be a PR coup for the Chinese government and will exacerbate oppression and economic marginalisation of Tibetans.

More than 30 Tibet groups across the world have already pledged support for the boycott of InterContinental hotels and following its public launch today, the campaign will seek support from individuals and other organisations internationally. Free Tibet has released a report and hard-hitting video today. A demonstration outside IHG’s annual general meeting at its London Park Lane hotel will take place this morning (UK time).

IHG – owner of the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands – plans to open the 1,000+ room “InterContinental Resort Lhasa Paradise” in 2014 and is partnering with Deng Hong of Sichuan-based Exhibition and Travel Group (ETG), a Chinese businessman with close links to the Chinese regime (1). According to Chinese media, Deng is currently being investigated for corruption (2). More than 90% of visitors to Tibet are Chinese (3) and the hotel’s expansive meeting and conference facilities are likely to attract business from Chinese companies and the state itself.

Nearly 120 Tibetans have set themselves alight in protest against the Chinese regime since March 2011, including teenagers, young mothers, students and monks (4). Two Tibetans set themselves alight in Lhasa in 2012 (5). China has responded with collective punishments for entire communities and severe sentences for anyone convicted of involvement in the protests (6). Lhasa itself is heavily militarised and recent security sweeps have seen Tibetans jailed for any evidence on their phones of contact with foreign numbers (7).

Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, director of Free Tibet, says “Lhasa is not a playground or a paradise: it is the beleaguered capital of an oppressed and occupied nation. The presence of an upscale multinational brand such as InterContinental gifts priceless PR to the Chinese regime responsible for gross human rights abuses throughout Tibet. IHG’s marketing portrays Lhasa as a paradise and trades on images of an ancient Tibetan culture which in reality is being systematically destroyed by China.

“The hotel’s rooms will be occupied by wealthy Chinese friends of the Communist regime or by its highly-paid or highly bribed officials, and its business facilities will depend on the regime and its cronies. At worst, this hotel could be where the further oppression of the Tibetan people is actually facilitated. IHG and China will take the profit: Tibetans will wash the dishes. InterContinental Hotels are parasites in their so-called paradise."

The international campaign is being spearheaded by Free Tibet, a UK-based international campaign group. 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.

The AGM demonstration is being organised in partnership with Students for a Free Tibet UK and the boycott campaign is being co-ordinated with the International Tibet Network.

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For further information or comment, contact Free Tibet campaigns and media officer Alistair Currie:

E: alistair@freetibet.org
T: +44 207 324 4619


www.freetibet.org/intercontinental

Notes for editors
(1) China Daily 3 June 2010 http://bbs.chinadaily.com.cn/thread-669624-1-1.html

(2) Another Sichuan businessman investigated for graft http://english.caixin.com/2013-04-12/100513654.html

(3) Letter from China UK ambassador Liu Xiaoming, 2012, copy held by Free Tibet

(4) Full list of self-immolations http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/full-list-self-immolations-tibet

(5) Dorje Tseten and Dargye, 27 May 2012, http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/tibetan-spring-reaches-lhasa

(6) http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/monks-receive-heavy-sentences-%E2%80%9Cinciting%E2%80%9D-self-immolations

(7) http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/communications-clampdown