Celebrities Should Know the Human Rights Record Before Performing in Countries Ruled Under Oppressive Regimes, Says Ros-Lehtinen

Jul 1, 2013

WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement after Jennifer Lopez performed for Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the leader of Turkmenistan. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“I am greatly disappointed Ms. Lopez decided to perform for Mr. Berdimuhamedov without being fully aware of his human rights record. According to Human Rights Watch, Turkmenistan is 'one of the world's most repressive countries.' Under the Berdimuhamedov regime, people are imprisoned and tortured for openly criticizing the government, journalists are censured, and various religious groups are often persecuted and restricted in their ability to function freely and openly.

“Ms. Lopez should have used better judgment before performing in a country led by such a repressive regime. These misguided actions send the wrong message to all democracy and freedom-seeking people living under such harsh conditions.

“Celebrities, as public figures, have a large microphone and should lend their voices to those unable to speak up for themselves in such repressive countries, and condemn these regimes. While I appreciate her recent apology, Ms. Lopez missed an opportunity to make a bigger statement by refusing to perform for Berdimuhamedov and calling out his country’s abysmal human rights record. As a public figure, she can choose to stand up for those who have no voice of their own and whose leaders continue to oppress their own citizens."