Tibet activists disrupting InterContinental Hotels Group’s annual general meeting in London with a “die in” on May 24, 2013. (Photo/SFT, UK)
DHARAMSHALA, May 26: Tibet campaigners armed with placards carrying graphic images of human rights abuses in Tibet disrupted InterContinental Hotels Group’s annual general meeting in London with a “die in” Friday.
The demonstrators were demanding IGH to withdraw its plans to open a luxury hotel in Lhasa, Tibet’s ancient capital, citing the “severe human rights abuses in Tibet and intense, ongoing protests against Chinese rule.”
IHG – owner of the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands – plans to open the 1,000+ room “InterContinental Resort Lhasa Paradise” in 2014 in partnership with Deng Hong of Sichuan-based Exhibition and Travel Group, a Chinese businessman with “close links” to the Chinese regime.
Campaigners from the Free Tibet group and Students for a Free Tibet, UK, asserted that the “hotel’s presence will be a PR coup for the Chinese government and will exacerbate oppression and economic marginalisation of Tibetans.”
Since 2009, as many as 117 Tibetans living under China’s rule have set themselves on fire demanding freedom and the return of Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile.
“Lhasa is not a playground or a paradise: it is the beleaguered capital of an oppressed and occupied nation,” Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, director of Free Tibet said in a statement.
“IHG’s marketing will sell the image of an ancient Tibetan culture which in reality is being systematically destroyed by China. While Lhasa’s Tibetan inhabitants fear imprisonment, torture or worse for speaking out against the regime, the hotel’s rooms and business facilities will be occupied by wealthy cronies of the Communist Party or by its highly-paid or highly-bribed officials. IHG and China will take the profit: Tibetans will wash the dishes. InterContinental Hotels are parasites in their so-called paradise.”
Organisers of the demonstration also spoke as shareholders in the AGM and challenged executives over the company’s plan.
The protests coincided with the launch of a global boycott campaign
targeting IHG supported by more than 30 Tibet groups worldwide.
The campaign 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.