Mariah Carey's manager Jermaine Dupri has defended the pop superstar for accepting a $1 million (£670,000) payment to perform for Angolan dictator Jose Eduardo Dos Santos. The Hero hitmaker came under fire from human rights activists earlier this week (ends20Dec13) following her appearance at a gala for the Angolan Red Cross, which was sponsored by bosses at mobile phone company Unitel. Both organisations are run by Dos Santos' daughter, Isabel.
President Dos Santos was the guest of honour at the 15 December (13) event, and Carey even posed for photos with the controversial leader and his family after her two-hour performance.
The gig sparked a backlash led by the head of the Human Rights Foundation, Thor Halvorssen, who accused Carey of lending her support to "one of Africa's chief human rights violators and most corrupt tyrants", and failing to learn from the criticism she was exposed to in 2008, when she was forced to apologise after headlining a private New Year's Eve show for late Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi.
However, Dupri, who took over as Carey's manager in October (13), remains defiant, claiming they have no reason to apologise.
Speaking to the New York Post on Friday (20Dec13), he said, "I don't feel like we have done anything wrong."
And when asked if Carey regretted taking on the headline-grabbing gig, Dupri replied, "Why should she be?"
The producer's response has prompted Halvorssen to take aim at Dupri, stating, "(He) exemplifies the wilful ignorance of performers who pose for photos at human rights events one day and accept copious amounts of blood diamond money on the next."
Carey, who has jetted off to Aspen, Colorado with her family for their annual Christmas break, has yet to address the controversy herself.
Superstar Mariah Carey has come under fire from human rights campaigners after performing for Angola's president Jose Eduardo Dos Santos last weekend (14-15Dec13). The Hero hitmaker was reportedly paid over $1 million (£670,000) for a two-hour concert on Sunday (15Dec13) at a gala for the Angolan Red Cross, which was sponsored by bosses at mobile phone company Unitel and attended by the president.
The politician's daughter, Isabel, owns Unitel and is the head of the Angolan Red Cross.
Addressing the crowd at the event, Carey reportedly said, "I am happy to be here in this room and I am honoured to share this show with the President of Angola."
However, the lucrative gig, which occurred five years after she performed a controversial New Year's Eve show for late Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi's family in 2008, has landed the singer in trouble with The Human Rights Foundation president, Thor Halvorssen, who claims Carey should have researched the allegations of corruption and human rights abuses against Dos Santos before accepting the job.
In a statement, Halvorssen describes Dos Santos as a "dictator", writing, "Mariah Carey can't seem to get enough dictator cash, reportedly more than $1 million this time. Just five years ago she performed for the family of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Now, she goes from private performances to public displays of support and credibility for one of Africa's chief human rights violators and most corrupt tyrants.
"It is the sad spectacle of an international artist purchased by a ruthless police state to entertain and whitewash the father-daughter kleptocracy that has amassed billions in ill-gotten wealth while the majority of Angola lives on less than $2 a day."
Carey apologised for her Libyan gig after it sparked a backlash, but she isn't alone - Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce and Usher have all been criticised for staging similar performances for other controversial figureheads in the past.
Hilary Swank recently attended a birthday concert for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who human rights groups accuse of committing torture, abductions and killings (Kadyrov's security forces are known to harass and threaten women who don't wear headscarves or adhere to the Islamic dress code in Chechnya.) Obviously people were shocked and angered Hilary was spotted hanging around such an unpopular crowd, so the Hollywood starlet issued a statement regarding her involvement in the celebration. The actress apologized for her behavior, stating, "I deeply regret attending this event… If I had a full understanding of what this event was apparently intended to be, I would never have gone." Does that mean she just RSVPs to everything without really knowing where she's going? Perhaps it was just her roundabout way of blaming her publicist since he/she was most likely in charge of opening and responding Hilary's mail. Jean Claude Van Damme and violinist Vanessa Mae also attended the festivities, but their reps have yet to issue any statements regarding their presence at the event. (Probably because they've now been fired.)
As you can imagine, Human Rights groups were not too happy about the aforementioned celebrities attending the party. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, said in a statement, "Hilary Swank obviously has the right to earn a living entertaining the highest bidder, but this sort of venality should be exposed - especially after claiming she was not going. Would she have accepted an invitation to entertain Pinochet? Al-Qaeda? The apartheid government in Pretoria? We must remember the disgrace of Mariah Carey, Nelly Furtado, Beyoncé and 50 Cent were exposed to after singing for Gaddafi's family and earning millions of dollars for it." He makes a good point. I know people have the right to be befriend whomever they want (I'm sure there's a Freedom of Friendship clause written somewhere), but Hilary's participation in Kadyrov's celebration can be interpreted as her approval of Kadyrov's actions. Maybe next time she should just play it safe and stay at home.
Click on the image below for more photos of Hilary Swank!
Source: CBS News, THR
The politician, who turned 35 on Wednesday (05Oct11), closed off central Grozny, the country's capital, to host a lavish bash, which saw a number of skyscrapers illuminated as fireworks were simultaneously set off.
He invited Oscar-winner Swank and action man Van Damme to watch violinist Vanessa Mae perform as part of his birthday party, and both wished him many happy returns.
However, the stars' attendance has infuriated activists who accuse Kadyrov of acts of brutality and torture against his own people.
A spokesperson for the Human Rights Watch organisation has urged the pair to hand any fee they received for attending the party to charity, saying, "Ramzan Kadyrov is linked to a litany of horrific human rights abuses. It's inappropriate for stars to get paid to party with him. It bolsters his image and legitimises a brutal leader and his regime. And getting paid to be part of such a lavish show in Chechnya trivialises the suffering of countless victims of human rights abuses there."
Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, adds, "Hilary Swank obviously has the right to earn a living entertaining the highest bidder, but this sort of venality should be exposed - especially after claiming she was not going.
"Would she have accepted an invitation to entertain (former Chilean leader Augusto) Pinochet? Al-Qaeda? The apartheid government in Pretoria? We must remember the disgrace of Mariah Carey, Nelly Furtado, Beyonce and 50 Cent (who) were exposed... singing for Gaddafi's family and earning millions of dollars for it."