Activists carrying out a demonstration outside the InterContinental Hotels Group’s “Future of Local” event in Times Square in New York on June 20, 2013. (Photo/SFT)
DHARAMSHALA, June 21: Tibet campaigners carried out a demonstration outside the InterContinental Hotels Group’s “Future of Local” event in their Times Square hotel in New York on Thursday, demanding the company to ditch its plans of opening a luxury hotel in Lhasa, Tibet’s ancient capital.
Calling Tibet “one of the most repressed regions of the world," demonstrators contended that the company’s attempts at branding Lhasa as a luxury tourist destination is “a gross insult to the Tibetan people living daily under the shadows of Chinese guns.”
“As a Tibetan, I am here to tell Larry Light, Chief Brands Officer of InterContintental Hotels Group, that Lhasa under Chinese occupation is essentially a prison. Occupation is no vacation and InterContinental's attempt to brand Lhasa as a luxury tourist destination is a gross insult to the Tibetan people living daily under the shadows of Chinese guns," said Pema Yoko, Campaigns Director at the Students for a Free Tibet, a global campaigning group working in solidarity with the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom and independence.
“… Tibetans and people of conscience around the world will continue to escalate pressure on InterContinental until it cancels its plan for the Lhasa hotel," she added.
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.
Activists leading the international boycott campaign against IHG have said that the hotel’s presence in Tibet “will be a PR coup for the Chinese government and will exacerbate oppression and economic marginalisation of Tibetans.”
Since 2009, as many as 119 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.
“IHG’s involvement in ‘The Future of Local’ is a cynical attempt to present an image of a responsible multinational corporation. The reality is that the company is cosying up to a repressive regime and trading on its propaganda. While the panelists at this discussion discuss the ‘future of local’, local culture in Tibet is being systematically destroyed. Tibetans who try to defend it pay with their liberty and lives," said Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, Director of Free Tibet, a UK-based international campaign group for Tibet.
“As long as Western multinationals collude with the Chinese regime in portraying Lhasa as a happy and peaceful place, the ‘future of local’ in Tibet is bleak. IHG must pull out of Tibet.”
The international boycott campaign against InterContinental Hotels Group is spearheaded by Free Tibet and supported by more than 30 Tibet groups.