- Posted June 26, 2014 by
French Hotel Confined Guests to Ensure Smooth Meeting for Chinese Officials in Taiwan
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
On June 25 2014 9:30AM, managers of a French hotel chain Novotel in Taiwan broke into the hotel room of human rights lawyer Lai Chung-Chiang and several social activists by force and confined them in a room while cutting off the electricity, water supply, and internet in the room. This was speculated to ensure a much disputed meeting between top Taiwanese and Chinese officials taking place later that day in the hotel would be held without disruption.
The incident immediately attracted attention on internet and hundreds of comments have been left on the Novotel's social media page protesting the apparent misconduct and breach of law of the hotel's managerial staff. Yet the hotel remains that they broke into the room because some members of the guests did not present their official ID at check-in and was out of a gesture of care for the guests. As a clear violation of law, the group of guests is considering a lawsuit against the hotel.
The incident began on June 25 at 1 AM, when human right lawyer Lai Chung-Chiang and a few social activists checked in into two hotel rooms in the Novotel Hotel in Taoyuan Airport, Taiwan. At 9:30AM in the morning, they heard a shout of "room service" outside and were approached by hotel staffs requesting them to leave the hotel because a few of the guests did not show their ID at check-in. After they refused to leave and stated their right to stay as the law protected, the hotel managers, including a French national, broke in to the room by force and demanded the guests to leave. (see video)
From 10 AM to noon Lawyer Lai along with other guests remained in the hotel but were confined in one room. The hotel cut off the electricity, internet, phone, and water supply of the room. At 2PM The group asked to order room service. The hotel claimed room service was not available for the day, and no drinking water can be provided. At the same time, they did not allow the group to leave the room by own will.
At 4 PM The Novotel Taiwan posted a press release claiming breaking into the hotel room was out of a care for the guests and was because some members of the party broke the law by not showing ID at registration. Later the press release was taken down from the website.
At 6 PM The group agreed to leave all together, but was rejected by the hotel to take the elevator or the front entrance. Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters gathered at the hotel door demanding an immediate permission for the group to exit hotel by the front entrance.
The whole incident was clearly tied to the highly controversial meeting between Zhang Zhijun, the head of the Taiwan Affairs Office in China, and Wang Yu-chi, the Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council in Taiwan, which took place on June 25 at the Novotel Hotel Taoyuan Taiwan. The meeting has been regarded as lack of transparency and without congressional approval, heavily protested by pro-democracy activists in Taiwan.
To ensure the smooth proceeding of the meeting, the hotel took the action they perceived necessary and casted the unwanted guests out, but also forever cast a shadow on their reputation as a political lackey willing to sacrifice their guests' legal right in the face of political pressure.
Democracy Tautin https://www.facebook.com/DemocracyTautin
On June 26, Taipei Bar Association publicly denounced the actions of the hotel and their misinterpretation of the law (full text of the Taipei Bar Association press release can be found here http://newtalk.tw/news/2014/06/26/48670.html)
On June 27, the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport Hotel issued their newest statement https://www.facebook.com/novoteltaipeitaoyuan.
Democracy Tautin, the group of guests involved in this incident, video-taped a Q&A about the incident and the hotel's response. The video can be found here https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=316031195228779&set=vb.294447677387131&type=2&theater