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.
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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."