Jennifer Lopez was paid $10m to perform for 'thugs and cronies'

Jul 16, 2013, 02:06 IST | Agencies

The hit singer has been criticised by a human rights group for accepting lucrative fees to sing for despots and moguls from eastern Europe and Russia

Jennifer Lopez recently made headlines for serenading the oppressive ruler of Turkmenistan and now a human rights group says it’s not the first time she’s shaken her famous derriere for the world’s most notorious thugs.

Too low for J Lo: Jennifer Lopez gives a birthday performance for Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov on June 29. Lopez is under fire for taking over $1 million from the notoriously repressive leader. Pic/AFP

Human Rights Foundation criticised Lopez’s June 29 rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ for President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov and now the group claims she’s taken money to perform for at least three other leaders and businessmen of ill repute.

While the hit singer was paid a reported $1.5 million (Rs 9 crore) for the Turkmenistan gig that was hosted by China National Petroleum, Human Rights Foundation says she’s made a total of $10 million (Rs 60 crore) from that and other questionable bookings.

“J Lo has repeatedly mingled with and entertained some of the world’s worst thugs and their cronies,” Human Rights Foundation president Thor Halvorssen said in a statement.

Berdymukhammedov has been criticised for his oppressive rule by human rights organisations. Human Rights Watch describes Turkmenistan as ‘among the most repressive in the world.’

According to Human Rights Foundation, other leaders and businessmen with a history of human rights violations for whom Lopez has performed include Telman Ismailov, a Russian oligarch widely accused of corruption, and a 2011 performance for Uzbek industrialist Azam Aslanov at the wedding of his son.

Lopez was also booked to sing ‘happy birthday’ to another man, an allegedly corrupt Russian bureaucrat named Alexander Yolkin. She was paid $2 million for the gig, but it never happened because Yolkin was arrested the day before Lopez was slated to perform.

Human Rights Foundation also criticised Lopez for taking a leg of her 2012 tour to Belarus, a country the group calls ‘Europe’s only dictatorship.’

Lopez’s publicist responded to the row over the Turkmenistan event, and said the gig was vetted by the performer’s staff: “Had there been knowledge of human rights issues of any kind, Jennifer would not have attended.”

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