Pop singer Jennifer Lopez appeared in a special concert Saturday night for the dictator of Turkmenistan, who runs one of the world’s most brutal and oppressive regimes.
“It was our pleasure!” she cheered from the stage. “And we wish you the very happiest birthday… Happy birthday to you — happy birthday, Mr. President.”
Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who last made waves in the western media for falling off his horse in front of a large crowd, has accumulated a sordid history since coming to power in 2006.
Reporters Without Borders says that under his rule, Turkmenistan has become “one of the world’s most absolute and brutal dictatorships.” Human Rights Watch similarly classifies the country as “virtually closed to independent scrutiny,” where “human rights defenders and other activists face the constant threat of government reprisal.”
The trip to the oil-rich former Soviet nation was organized by the state-run China National Petroleum Corporation, which Lopez reportedly “obliged” at the last moment, according to The Guardian. Her publicist told the paper that she would not have performed the show had she known about the country’s regime.
This video was published to YouTube on Sunday, June 30, 2013.
[“Stock Photo: Minsk, Belarus – September 21, 2012 Jennifer Lopez At The Jlo Dance Again Tour 2012 On September 21, 2012 In Minsk, Belarus” on Shutterstock.]