Tibet demonstrations at more than 20 InterContinental hotels worldwide on 5 November

Thursday, 7 November 2013

“Die-ins”, “dirty laundry”, lobby occupations and noisy protests across the world on Tuesday, while demonstration at London travel fair targeted travel industry peers

Tibet protesters staged actions at InterContinental hotels on five continents on Tuesday as part of a coordinated day of action against InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) plan to open a 1,000+ room luxury hotel next year in the capital of occupied Tibet. The protests – timed to coincide with the release of IHG’s third quarter results - are the latest escalation of the international campaign launched in May this year by Free Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet.

Protests and other events took place in cities including Krakow, Delhi, Antwerp, London, Toronto, Melbourne, Paris, Mexico City, Copenhagen and New York (full list below, 1). At the same time, activists were thrown out of the prestigious World Travel Market in London for staging a high profile demonstration before assembled representatives of the travel industry.

In Copenhagen and Antwerp protesters occupied the lobbies of InterContinental hotels while in Toronto, protesters outside the InterContinental staged street theatre showing an InterContinental hotel being built on the dead bodies of Tibetans. In At the London InterContinental Westminster hotel, protesters hung out a washing line carrying bed sheets bearing the words “IHG washes China’s dirty laundry in Tibet”. UK Member of Parliament Kate Hoey joined FreeTibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren to hand-deliver a letter to the hotel’s manager. In Belgium, campaigners also hung “Do not disturb Tibet” signs on room doors inside the hotel (photos from all events available, 2). Global protests were organised with the assistance of the International Tibet Network.

Protesters from Free Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet also staged a high-profile demonstration at the World Travel Market in London. The protesters hung a large banner saying “Intercontinental Out of Tibet” on a balcony in the main concourse of the prestigious trade event and blocked a stairway near the entrance, chanting the same message. After around 10 minutes, security staff appeared and tried to remove them from the venue. A number of protesters were manhandled and some were carried from the building (photos available, 2).

Tibet campaign groups maintain that the company’s presence and its decision to name the hotel the ‘Lhasa Paradise’ is a propaganda gift to the Chinese regime responsible for human rights abuses throughout Tibet and for severe repression, surveillance and denial of human rights in Lhasa in particular. UK-based IHG – owner of Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza – has refused to answer campaigners’ questions about its discussions with authorities in Tibet, how it has assessed the impact of the hotel on Lhasa, how it will protect the human rights of its employees and the possible use of the hotel as a venue for Chinese officials to discuss further repression of Tibet. (More information at www.freetibet.org/intercontinental.)

IHG’s partner in the business is a Chinese property company (3) whose owner is reported to be under investigation for corruption (4). The hotel is currently two years behind schedule.

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“IHG’s decision to open a hotel in Tibet has brought them nothing but problems, and today’s protests show they will face many more until they cancel this deal. Their hotel is late, their business partner is reportedly being investigated for corruption and their guests around the world will need to get used to the sight of Tibet protesters outside their lobbies. We will take our message wherever InterContinental does business, whether that’s a hotel in Mexico or a trade fair in London. Tibet’s capital is one of the most oppressed places on earth and so long as it is occupied by China and the rights of its people are so grossly abused, this is no place for a company like InterContinental to be conducting business. It is time to do the right thing and pull the plug on this hotel.”

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).

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Contacts

For more information, photographs or comment, contact:

London: Alistair Currie, Free Tibet,
T: +44 (0)207 324 4605
E: Alistair@freetibet.org

More information at www.freetibet.org/intercontinental

1) Confirmed events in: Abu Dhabi, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Berlin, Boston, Copenhagen, Delhi, Krakow, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, Morelia (Mexico), New York, Paris, Sydney, Toronto, Vienna, Warsaw, Washington DC. Some cities saw more than one hotel targeted.

Unconfirmed events in Kampala, Natal (Brazil), San Franciso

2) Photographs from worldwide demonstrations, including protesters being ejected from WTM, at Photographs from worldwide demonstrations at http://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/sets/72157637374569464/; demonstrators being ejected from WTM http://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/sets/72157637348721264/ All photographs available for media use.

3) Exhibition & Travel Group, Sichuan, http://ls.hzdccd.com/main.html

4) Daily Telegraph, 13 September 2013 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10308029/Corruption-and-the-worlds-biggest-building.html

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. title="Free Tibet home">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