Marriott rejected Uighur conference to maintain ‘political neutrality’

Prague Marriott cited “reasons for political neutrality” for its decision to refuse to host the Uyghur World Congress, according to an email first reported by Axios.

In a statement, Marriott International (MAR), Inc. said the Prague Hotel’s response to the group “was not in line with our policies.” Marriott said the Prague hotel’s management team has contacted the group to apologize.

“We are working with the hotel team to provide additional training and education about our long-standing practice of inclusion,” said Marriott.

Marriott confirmed that last month the Marriott Marriott sent an email to the activist group, explaining that the planned November conference would not be held on the spot – after consulting with the company’s management.

“Unfortunately, I have to inform you that we are not able to offer the premises. We have consulted the whole matter with our company management. For the sake of political neutrality, we can not offer events of this type with a political theme,” it says in the email. .

Marriott International told CNN that this was a “hotel-level decision,” and the reference to “corporate governance” refers to the management of the hotel in Prague.

Activists find Marriott’s response “cooling”.

Based in Germany, the Uighur World Congress consists of exiled Uighurs and those seeking to draw attention to allegations of genocide in the Xinjiang region of China. An independent report by more than 50 global experts released in March showed that the Chinese government “bears the state’s responsibility for an ongoing genocide against the Uighurs” in violation of the UN Genocide Convention.

Chinese state media have called the World Uyghur Congress a terrorist group. China has also denied human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Tibet, calling the killings “punitive”.

Zumretay Arkin, a program and advocacy manager for the World Uyghur Congress, confirmed that Marriott reached out to the group’s representative in Prague. “But I’m still waiting for an official apology,” Arkin continued Twitter.
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In an interview with Axios, Arkin said Marriott’s response was “shocking”.

“We host international events all the time and this is the first time we got this excuse,” Arkin told Axios. “It’s scary because of the broader concept of how China is really disrupting Western democracies.”

In its statement to CNN, Marriott said it is committed to “providing a warm welcome to all.”

“We are in the hospitality industry and welcome people from all over the world and from all walks of life who represent many beliefs,” the company said.

The incident is the latest misstep for Marriott, which involves China, a large and fast-growing hotel chain market.

In 2018, Chinese authorities blocked Marriott’s website and app after the company listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as separate “countries” in its emails and app. Marriott vehemently apologized and insisted that it respects China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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