Comedian Mark Thomas leads “guest nationality inspectors” into Intercontinental hotel: video

Monday, 3 March 2014

Campaign video exposes implications for InterContinental Hotels Group as company stays mute on cooperation with racist policy in Tibet Three weeks after Tibet campaigners contacted Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) asking whether the company’s forthcoming hotel in Lhasa will comply with Chinese orders requiring hotels in the city to report Tibetan guests to the police, the company has yet to provide any answer (1). In response to the company's silence, Free Tibet has released a campaign video featuring "guest nationality inspectors" searching for Tibetans at the Intercontinental London Park Lane hotel (view on YouTube). Followed by a video camera, UK comedian Mark Thomas led Free Tibet campaigners into the hotel where they checked the nationalities of a number of bemused guests. On discovering a Tibetan, the "nationality inspectors" asked confused hotel staff to call the police. The video highlights the 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 (3). Tibet campaigners have written to four multinational hotel companies regarding the policy, asking whether they will comply with it. 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). None has yet replied. IHG has also yet to respond to a request from the office of the United Nations Global Compact to provide answers to a series of questions posed by Tibet campaigners about its hotel (6). IHG is a signatory to the Global Compact, which seeks to foster best practice in corporate responsibility. The company was given until March 15 to contact Free Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet, who submitted a complaint to the Global Compact in January. Mark Thomas said:

"I think we caused a little bit of a stir which is enough to push it up the management chain. Hopefully we can put a bit more pressure on Intercontinental to stop working with racists, essentially, and with people who are occupying someone else's country."

Free Tibet’s director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“IHG’s reputation as a responsible business has already suffered because of its plan to open a playground for the rich in one of the most repressed places on earth. If this hotel opens, InterContinental will either have to comply with a racist policy directly implicating the company in the abuse of Tibetans’ human rights, or it will have to defy the Chinese authorities in Tibet, putting its employees in Lhasa at risk of arrest. Every hotel in Lhasa must address this very serious issue but IHG has a chance to keep its hands clean by doing what it should have done a long time ago and pulling out of this ill-advised and irresponsible deal.”

Video “The Hotel Inspectors” available at Stills available at -ends- More information about the campaign and the hotel at Contact For more information or comment, contact Alistair Currie at Free Tibet T: +44 (0)207 324 4605 E: (out of office on 3 March. Please phone or contact Notes for editors (1) Copies of correspondence 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. (Woeser is a recipient of a US State Department’s Women of Courage Award 2013) (3) In complaint forwarded by office of UN Global Compact (see 5, below) (4) St Regis Lhasa Resort; Four Points by Sheraton; Super-8 Lhasa (5) Shangri-La (6) Free Tibet press release 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.