Marriot Iran Protest 311.
(photo credit: Private)
BERLIN – A Hamburg hotel’s decision on Monday to hold a controversial conference
with an alleged violator of human rights to promote German-Iranian trade
prompted protest by New York–based United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and the
German chapter of Stop the Bomb. The “Iran Business Forum,” which was organized
by Berlin-based company IPCGmbH, was held at the Marriott Airport Hotel,
sparking the two NGOs to call for a boycott of Marriott’s global
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The day-long event addressed “investment possibilities in the
northwestern provinces of Iran” and the program listed Iran’s ambassador to
Germany, Ali Reza Sheikh Attar, as the keynote speaker.
Iranian Kurds and
human rights groups say Attar sanctioned a massacre of Iranian Kurds during his
tenure as governor of the Kurdistan and West Azarbaijan provinces from 1980 to
In a letter faxed to Marriott’s CEO, J.W. Marriott Jr., UANI
President Mark D. Wallace wrote, “Ambassador Attar represents a criminal regime
that flouts international law in developing an illegal nuclear weapon, brutally
represses its own people, and is the world’s leading state sponsor of
UANI called on Marriott to cancel the pro-Iran trade
“If the Marriott continues with its plans to serve as a host to
the Iran Business Forum and Ambassador Attar, UANI will take action against the
Marriott hotel chain worldwide. UANI will call on its activists to peacefully
protest your properties, and will call for a general public boycott of all
Marriott properties, “ wrote Wallace.
Wallace noted in his letter, “Rest
assured we do not seek to harm any business gratuitously, but understand that
the danger that a nuclear-armed Iran poses to national and international
security is too great to ignore.
“Your decision to facilitate an event
dedicated to increasing the level of economic cooperation between Germany and
Iran runs directly counter to the efforts of the international community to
isolate the Iranian regime,” he wrote.
Speaking from Hamburg, Andreas
Benl, a Stop the Bomb activist who coordinated the protest at the Marriott
against the Iran Business Forum, told The Jerusalem Post that roughly 20 people
demonstrated against the pro-Iranian trade event. According to Benl, Marriott
went ahead with the forum, and approximately 50 Germans and 50 Iranians attended
the business conference.
Benl said the event “shows the brashness and
barbarism of the regime” in Iran because two German journalists are currently
imprisoned in a northwestern province in Iran for interviewing of the family of
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman who was sentenced to stoning for
A similar campaign in February, driven by the German
chapter of Stop the Bomb, succeeded in causing the Kempinski Hotel in Hamburg to
pull the plug on an event with Iranian Ambassador Attar.
In a letter
issued to the Marriott Hotel, Stop the Bomb wrote that by holding the event, the
“hotel will support promotion of trade with a regime that brutally suppresses
its own people, supports global terror, denies the Holocaust and threatens
Israel with annihilation.
Events like this weaken international pressure
on the Iranian regime in a dangerous way.” Stop the Bomb termed the business
forum a “propaganda event for the Iranian regime.”
When asked about UANI
and Stop the Bomb’s criticisms of Marriott, Elizabeth Caminiti, public relations
director for Marriott’s European hotels, told the Post that “Regarding this
event, we are a hospitality company that provides public accommodations and
function space. Acceptance of business does not indicate support, or endorsement
of any group or individual.”
Diba Parnian Fard, the head of IPC-GmbH,
which organized the event, could not be reached for comment. A family member
said she was in Hamburg at the forum and could not be reached. In a telephone
interview with the Post, Nils Drescher, a manager at the hotel, expressed
“concerns” about the pro-Iran event.