Tibet activists blockade InterContinental London Westminster hotel

05 August 2013 by
Tibet activists blockade InterContinental London Westminster hotel

Activists campaigning against human rights abuses in Tibet set up camp outside the InterContinental London Westminster hotel.

They blocked the entrance to the five-star, 256-bedroom hotel with a double bed in protest against plans by InterContinental Hotels (IHG) to build a luxury hotel in occupied Lhasa, Tibet.

In the bed, activists wearing masks of Richard Solomons, chief executive of IHG, and Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, exchanged money bags, while the slogan on the sheet declared IHG: selling out Tibet.

The action was organised by Free Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet UK as part of an international boycott campaign against IHG, launched in May this year, and comes two days before the company announces its second quarter results.

Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, director of Free Tibet, said that it is now time for IHG to admit its mistake in launching a hotel in Tibet and pull out. "The decision to open a luxury super-hotel in Tibet in 2014 has blown a hole in its credibility as a responsible business," she explained.

"IHG is out of its depth in Tibet; ill-equipped or unwilling to recognise the impact of selling an illusion of paradise in an occupied country that is a global black spot for human rights abuse. Getting into bed with China may open up an important market but Tibet is not China and the sooner IHG recognises that, the better it will be for business."

An IHG spokesperson responded by saying that the company takes "great pride" in operating responsibly and in a sustainable way.

"This will be no different in Lhasa. IHG has a rigorous Code of Ethics and Business Conduct Policy in place. As IHG will manage the hotel once open, the InterContinental Lhasa will be held to our high operational standards and policies, including the recruiting, training and development of our hotel staff. Our hotels not only create jobs but also drive tourism income, thereby helping to increase living standards in those countries where we have a presence."

The spokesperson added that the company had already met with representatives of Free Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet UK to discuss their grievances.

The Caterer and hotelkeeper Interview - Andrew Coney, general manager, InterContinental London Westminster >>

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