Marriott hotel in Prague refused to host Uyghur conference over “political neutrality”: report

Marriott International Prague site declined to host Uyghur conference last month citing “political neutrality”, emails say obtained by Axios.

The World Uyghur Congress is a Germany-based organization of Uyghur people in exile that seeks to draw 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 for quotes on hosting the conference, which was held this month.

A representative of the group visited the Marriott in Prague. According to Arkin, the representative did not provide information about the group. However, shortly after this visit, the Marriott sent an email to the organization indicating that it would not be able to offer the space for its conference.

“Thank you very much for your visit today. Unfortunately, I have to inform you that we are unable to offer the premises,” wrote the hotel’s events manager in an October 1 email. “We have consulted the whole issue with our corporate management. For reasons of political neutrality, we cannot offer events of this type with a political theme. Thank you once again for your time and understanding. . “

Arkin said that response was “shocking” and that nothing like this had ever happened to his organization.

“We run international events all the time and this is the first time we’ve been given this 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 branded the group as a terrorist organization that promotes unrest in Xinjiang.

Contacted by Axios, Marriott’s senior vice president of global communications, Melissa Froehlich Flood, said her company “would contact the group to apologize as the hotel’s response was not in line with our policies.”

The mayor of Prague, Zdeněk Hřib, attended the conference and said: “I have heard that China is unhappy with this conference being held here in Prague. Well, I’m unhappy that there is a country in 2021 that has concentration camps.

The Hill has contacted Marriott International and the Uyghur World 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 beliefs. The hotel team contacted 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 long-standing inclusion practices.

This incident is the latest of reports indicating China’s growing influence beyond its borders, especially with regard to the Uyghur people.

In August, a Chinese woman claimed that the Chinese government was running a detention center in Dubai where it was holding 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 treatment of the Chinese government for its Uyghur Muslim minority has been strongly condemned by the international community. Last year, the Trump administration called the treatment of Uyghurs in China “genocide.”

Since 2017, the Chinese government has operated a network of “re-education camps” where Uyghurs – a largely 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 abort.

President BidenJoe Biden Florida Republicans Vote To Limit Vaccination Mandates Bill honoring 13 servicemen killed in Afghanistan heads to Biden’s office overnight Defense and National Security – Brought to you by Boeing – Pentagon promises more transparency in strikes aerial PLUS specifically touched on China’s treatment of Uyghurs with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this week in a one-hour meeting. The Biden administration is reportedly considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Olympics over concerns about human rights violations.

Updated at 11:17 p.m.

Berta D. Wells