Jennifer Lopez's PR team says the singer would not have performed a private concert in Turkmenistan at the weekend HAD she known about charges of human rights violations in the Central Asian nation.Lopez was hired for a private gig for the dictator of Turkmenistan.
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov turned 56, and his birthday wish was a performance by Lopez.
J-Lo was the first entertainer from the West to accept the $1 million plus expenses, given the county's oppressive regime.
Human Rights Watch claims Turkmenistan is “one of the most repressive regimes in the world.”
ForeignPolicy.com reports "In 2001, he prohibited young men from wearing beards, long hair, or gold crowns on their teeth. Having dubbed himself Turkmenbashi, or Leader of All the Turkmen, be banned recorded music from being played in public places and cracked down on the performance of opera and ballet, which he deemed 'unnecessary.' Some calendar months were renamed after him and his relatives, and his book of philosophical musings -- the quasi-mystical Ruhnama -- was made part of the core curriculum for students of all ages.
Education was a particularly thorny issue for a dictator who sought to control his population by keeping them ignorant of the outside world, banning the Internet and restricting foreign books."
But Lopez is apparently not minding the bad press on Gurguly (our new and improved name for him). Lopez’s manager, Benny Medina, reportedly booked the gig.
Vice.com reports: "The incomparably batshit Turkmenbashi's foibles included naming the days of the week after his family, naming nearly everything after himself, forbidding the growing of beards (allegedly because he couldn't grow one himself), closing all libraries outside the capital because he believed that Turkmens were all illiterate anyway, banning video games and car radios, banning smoking in public (but only after he was forced to give up the 'coffin-nails' following a heart operation), banning lip-syncing at pop concerts, demanding that a palace of ice be built at the outskirts of the capital (despite the year-round 100 degrees Fahrenheit heat), sacking his interior minister on live TV (declaring, 'You've never done much to fight crime anyway'), and writing a national anthem that made repeated reference to the sun shining out of his ass. In 2006, he closed all the hospitals outside the capital."
The Associated Press reported that Lopez claims she did not know the abuse record of the country and that her people vetted the event for her.
"The event was vetted by her representatives, had there been knowledge of human-right issues of any kind, Jennifer would not have attended," Lopez's publicist Mark Young said in a statement.
"This was not a government sponsored event or political in nature," the statement added.
Rachel Denber, deputy director for Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch, commended Lopez for coming clean about the performance but said any sort of vetting on the country should have been easy.
"Just do a few Google clicks to look up their human-rights record," she said. "It's hard to know why they (pop stars) gravitate towards these unsavory leaders. It's worth noting that these leaders want public noticeability and prestige that these celebrities offer."
Here's a cheat sheet for J-Lo's team to check when the private date offers come in:
Afganistan - atrocities against women, poor
Hindustan - atrocities against women, poor
Kazakhstan - largest landlocked country, poor
Kyrgyzstan - human rights violations, also landlocked, poor
Pakistan - talks out of both sides of mouth, nuclear
Turkmeinistan - see above article
Uzbekistan - an authoritarian state with limited civil rights
Tajikistan - underdeveloped and poor, with severe shortages of medical supplies.