Late last month, Jennifer Lopez caught flak for singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" in Turkmenistan to that country's dictator, who has been cited by human rights organizations for numerous abuses and authoritarian leadership. At the time, J-Lo’s rep claimed in a statement that “the event was vetted by her representatives," and "had there been knowledge of human right issues of any kind, Jennifer would not have attended."
The Human Rights Foundation says Jennifer’s argument doesn’t carry much weight because, it claims, she's received “in excess of $10 million for serenading crooks and dictators from Eastern Europe and Russia.” The president of HRF is quoted on the group’s website as saying, “This is not about ignorance, it’s about greed.”
Regarding the performance in Turkmenistan, the HRF, citing coverage of the event within the country, casts doubt on J-Lo’s claim that it was “not political in nature” and that the birthday greeting was a last-minute request made by the China National Petroleum Corporation, which held the event. The HRF states that the CNPC is under scrutiny for human rights violations in Burma.
The HRF further cites other instances over the past two years during which, it says, Jennifer accepted money for questionable performances. They include a one-million-dollar payout from a corrupt Uzbek industrialist for a performance at his son’s wedding; a reported 2.5-million-dollar sum to sing at a FIFA soccer tournament, arranged by the dictatorship of Azerbaijan; and a tour date in Belarus, which is run by a dictatorship.
The HRF says its “position is that Lopez has the right to perform for whomever and wherever she is contracted, but she can hardly claim ignorance of the nature and impact of her actions as she cozies up to dictators and their enablers.”
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