Marriott hotel in Prague refused to host Uyghur conference due to ‘political neutrality’: report
A Marriott International site in Prague refused to host a Uighur conference last month, citing “political neutrality”, according to emails obtained by Axios.
The World Uyghur Congress is a Germany-based organization of exiled Uyghurs that seeks to bring attention to the plight of Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region. Zumretay Arkin, the group’s advocacy manager, told Axios that organizers started contacting hotels earlier this year to get quotes on accommodation for the conference, which was held this month.
A representative of the group went to visit the Marriott in Prague. According to Arkin, the representative did not provide any information about the group. However, shortly after this visit, the Marriott emailed the organization stating that they would not be able to offer the space for their conference.
“Thank you very much for your visit today. Unfortunately, I must inform you that we are unable to offer the premises,” the hotel’s events manager wrote in an Oct. 1 email. “We have consulted the whole matter with our company management. For reasons of political neutrality, we cannot offer politically themed events of this type. Thank you again for your time and understanding.”
Arkin said the response was “shocking” and that nothing like this had ever happened to his organization.
“We do international events all the time and this is the first time we’ve been given that excuse,” Arkin said. “It’s scary because of the larger concept of how China is really disrupting Western democracies.”
As Axios noted, the Uyghur World Conference has been repeatedly condemned by the Chinese government, which has labeled the group a terrorist organization that promotes unrest in Xinjiang.
When contacted by Axios, Melissa Froehlich Flood, Marriott’s senior vice president for global communications, said her company “would be contacting the group to apologize as the hotel’s response was not compliant. to our policies.
Mayor of Prague Zdeněk Hřib attended the conference and said: “I hear that China is unhappy with holding this conference here in Prague. Well, I am unhappy that there is a country in 2021 who have concentration camps.”
Mayor of Prague, @ZdenekHrib“I hear that China is unhappy with having this conference here in Prague. Well, I’m unhappy that there’s a country in 2021 that has concentration camps.”
Spot on. pic.twitter.com/NtuoKDodjE
— World Uyghur Congress (@UyghurCongress) November 12, 2021
The Hill has reached out to Marriott International and the World Uyghur Congress for further comment.
In a statement to The Hill, Froehlich Flood said, “Marriott International is committed to providing a warm welcome to all. We are in the hospitality business, welcoming people from all over the world and from all walks of life representing many faiths. The hotel team is contacting the group to apologize as the hotel’s response was not in line with our policies. We are working with the hotel team to provide additional training and education on our longstanding inclusion practices.
The incident is the latest in reports indicating China’s growing influence beyond its borders, particularly with regard to the Uyghur people.
In August, a Chinese woman claimed that the Chinese government operated a detention center in Dubai where it held Uyghurs. Wu Huan, 26, told The Associated Press that she was abducted from her hotel in Dubai and taken to a villa where she knew at least two Uyghurs were being held there.
The Chinese government’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority has drawn strong condemnation from the international community. Last year, the Trump administration called China’s treatment of Uyghurs “genocide.”
Since 2017, the Chinese government has operated a network of “re-education camps” where Uyghurs – a predominantly Muslim community – are said to be forced to take part in actions contrary to their beliefs, such as drinking alcohol and eating pork. Uyghur women are also reportedly forcibly sterilized and forced to have abortions.
President BidenJoe BidenBiden says he didn’t ‘overpromise’ Finnish PM to promise ‘extremely tough’ sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine specifically discussed China’s treatment of Uyghurs with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this week during an hour-long meeting. The Biden administration is reportedly considering a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics over concerns about human rights abuses.
— Updated at 11:17 p.m.