New York: On June 20 2013, to protest the construction of a luxury resort in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, a group of Tibetan-Americans and their supporters outside InterContinental Hotels Group's "Future of Local" event in their Times Square hotel where the project was being planned.
"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, Students for a Free Tibet Campaigns Director. "Right now, as historic parts of Lhasa are being destroyed, InterContinental's executives are trying to sell China's lies about Tibet. London and New York are only the beginning - Tibetans and people of conscience around the world will continue to escalate pressure on InterContinental until it cancels its plan for the Lhasa hotel."
"IHG's claim on their website that they 'work to protect nature, heritage and communities, preserving them for future generations to enjoy' is in direct contradiction with their decision to profit from Tibet, one of the most repressed regions of the world," she added.
Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, Director of Free Tibet said "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,". "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 Times Square protesters distributed leaflets carrying graphic images of human rights abuses in Tibet, following two recent similar events outside the Intercontinental Park Lane London hotel, organised by Free Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet UK. At IHG's Annual General Meeting at the Park Lane hotel in May, campaigners staged a 'die-in', blocking the main entrance. This hotel, amongst the several other construction projects happening in the capital city of Tibet is a part of a large scale redevelopment plan which destroys the heritage culture and history of the Tibetan people and land and once intiated and executed with, this cannot be undone. .
The hotel, 'Intercontinental Resort Lhasa Paradise' is being built by Sichuan-based Exhibition and Travel Group (ETG). Originally planned to open in 2012, the 1,100 room Lhasa hotel is now scheduled to open in 2014. ETG's chairman Deng Hong has close links to the Chinese regime and, according to Chinese media, both he and ETG's chief executive are being investigated for corruption. The organization has, in the past, also been involved with controversial development in the Federated States of Micronesia.
According to a US State Department report released this year, "Tibet's unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage" is subject to "severe repression" and "serious human rights abuses included extrajudicial killings, torture [and] arbitrary arrests". Almost 120 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest against the Chinese regime since March 2011. A Western news reporter who recently secretly filmed in Lhasa described it as "Orwellian".
Over 30 Tibet group including the International Tibet Network are in support of the international boycott campaign against InterContinental Hotels. 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.