Jennifer Lopez has apologised for performing at the birthday celebrations of Turkmenistan's President, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. The country has an appalling Human Rights record, a fact the singer and her entourage appeared completely unaware of.
Jennifer Lopez appeared on Saturday (29th June 2013) at the birthday celebrations of Turkmenistan's president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. The nation has a history of abysmal Human Rights, according to Human Rights Watch. Lopez has been criticised for performing, however the situation has drawn attention to the country and its leaders.
Jennifer Lopez at 4th Annual amfAR Inspiration Gala, The Plaza Hotel, New York
Lopez is not the only celebrity to entertain unsavoury characters. Oliver Stone worked with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez; Naomi Campbell accepted a diamond from Liberian dictator Charles Taylor; Michael Jackson was harboured by Prince Abdullah al-Khalifa of Bahrain and Beyonce and Usher performed for Hannibal Gadhafi.
Lopez has apologised - via her publicist- for performing, saying she would not have done so if she knew of Turkmenistan's Human Rights record.
Naomi Campbell, pictured here at The Glamour Woman of the Year Award, London, allegedly accepted a diamond from Charles Taylor.
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has held his position since 2006. It is thought his methods of ensuring re-election are barbaric with techniques including torture and imprisonment.
Appearing on Saturday, Lopez performed for Berdymukhamedov at his birthday celebrations. Whilst most of the country's population live in poverty, Lopez performed for the 56-year-old President at Avaza, a $2 billion dollar resort on the Caspian Sea.
Turkmenistan appears to breed egocentric presidents. Avaza is near the city of Turkmenbashi, named for former president Saparmurat Niyazov. He called himself Turkmenbashi, the "father of all Turkmen". Berdymukhamedov too has formed a personality cult of his own, and his lifestyle is fuelled by the offerings of various oil companies.
Director Oliver Stone worked on a documentary with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Lopez's performance is just one example of this, according to the AFP, she was hired by The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). CNPC are China's state-run oil and gas company. China too has a dismal Human Rights record.
Upon finishing her set, Lopez said "It was our pleasure. And we wish you the very happiest birthday".
Those Berdymukhamedov has imprisoned would probably have something quite different to say to the President on his birthday. These include 80-year-old radio contributor Amangelen Shapudakov. According to Human Rights Watch, he was "forcibly confined in a psychiatric facility for 43 days" and (now released) has been banned from leaving his home district.
Michael Jackson was harboured by Prince Abdullah al-Khalifa of Bahrain following allegations of child molestation.
Lopez appears to have done little research into the country. According to The Guardian; one of her entourage, choreographer JR Taylor, tweeted to Lopez's Turkmenistan fans and was dumbfounded when he received no response. The tweet, later deleted, read "I wonder where all my Turkmenistan followers are!? Hit me up!" According to Human Rights Watch the country is isolated from media attention. So there's your answer JR Taylor: being oppressed.
Lopez has previously refused to talk politics. When questioned about Russian political Punk band Pussy Riot, the singer said "I don't like to talk politics, to be honest".
For those of us who do like to talk about politics, this situation will hopefully draw attention to Human Rights issues in Turkmenistan. However, it is more likely to become merely another celebrity scandal and such issues will merely fade into the background.
Usher performed with Beyonce at Hannibal Gadhafi's New Years Eve Party in 2009.