Tibet demonstration targets British Hospitality & Tourism Summit

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Immediate use

Campaigners protest at InterContinental Park Lane over company’s “paradise resort” in China-occupied Lhasa

Attendees at the British Hospitality & Tourism Summit 2013 in London this morning were greeted by campaigners, highlighting InterContinental Hotels Group’s plan to open a luxury hotel in the capital of occupied Tibet. Despite “severe repression”, “Orwellian” surveillance and intense protests throughout Tibet, which China has occupied since 1950, the hotel will be named the Lhasa Paradise. Campaigners from Free Tibet are leading an international boycott against InterContinental hotels and demanding that InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) withdraws from Tibet.

The summit was held at the InterContinental Park Lane and IHG CEO Richard Solomons was scheduled to speak at the event. Protesters unfurled a large banner reading ‘Intercontinental: Get Out Of Tibet’ and distributed leaflets carrying graphic images of human rights abuses in Tibet. At IHG’s Annual General meeting at the same hotel in May, campaigners also staged a ‘die-in’, briefly blocking the main entrance (1). The security presence outside the hotel this morning was substantial, with guests and visitors forced to negotiate barriers placed by hotel staff.

Originally planned to open in 2012, the 1,100 room Lhasa hotel is now scheduled to open in 2014. IHG’s partner in the project is Sichuan-based Exhibition and Travel Group (ETG) (2). ETG’s chairman Deng Hong has close links to the regime and, according to Chinese media, both he and ETG’s chief executive are being investigated for corruption (3).

According to the US State Department this year, repression in Tibet throughout 2012 was “severe” and “serious human rights abuses included extrajudicial killings, torture [and] arbitrary arrests” (4). Almost 120 Tibetans have set themselves alight in protest against the Chinese regime since March 2011, including teenagers, young mothers, students and monks (5). Two Tibetans set themselves alight in Lhasa in 2012 (6). Lhasa itself is heavily militarised and recent security sweeps have seen Tibetans jailed for any evidence of having contacted foreign numbers on their phones (7). A Western news reporter who recently secretly filmed in Lhasa described it as an “Orwellian” (8).

Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, director of Free Tibet, says:

“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 will sell the image of an ancient Tibetan culture which in reality is being systematically destroyed by China. Describing Lhasa as a “paradise” while its Tibetan inhabitants fear imprisonment, torture or worse for speaking out against the regime, is a gross insult to their struggle for freedom. Tibet campaigners will continue to publicly embarrass and shame InterContinental until it pulls out of this deal.”

The international boycott campaign against InterContinental Hotels Group is supported by more than 30 Tibet groups and the International Tibet Network. It is being spearheaded by Free Tibet, a UK-based international campaign group that stands for the right of Tibetans to determine their own future, for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected.


Pictures available from Free Tibet

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

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


Notes for editors

(1) See video at http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/watch-tibet-activists-take-action-london ; photographs at http://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/sets/72157633654927530/

(2) http://ls.hzdccd.com/main.html

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

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

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

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

(8) France 24, Seven days in Tibet, 31 May 2013