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Jennifer Lopez Called Out for Performing at Turkmenistan’s Dictator’s Birthday Party

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 23:  Singer Jennifer Lopez attends Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XIX at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa on March 23, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Mike Moore/Getty Images for Fight Night)

As you would expect, Jennifer Lopez is under fire from human-rights groups and generally everybody else for her paid performance at Turkmenistan dictator Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s lavish birthday party on Saturday (you can watch a clip of if here). In a statement released this morning, Human Rights Foundation president Thor Halvorssen said the pop star’s choice to appear in the oppressed hermit nation “utterly destroy[s] the carefully-crafted message she has cultivated with her prior involvement with Amnesty International’s programs in Mexico aimed at curbing violence against women.” He added, "What is the next stop on her tour, Syria? The dictator of Kazakhstan’s birthday is July 6, maybe she will also pay him a visit?"

Meanwhile on Twitter, Mia Farrow and her son both lambasted the appearance. Ronan Farrow, himself a human rights lawyer who most recently worked with Hillary Clinton as a special adviser for global youth issues wrote, "Singing happy birthday to dictators while dissidents and journalists die in their torture chambers? Still Jenny from the block, @JLo?" while mother Mia said, "New low for @JLo who just sang for murderous dictator of Turkmenistan- one of world’s most repressive regimes via @RonanFarrow #shame."

According to the AP, Lopez’s camp released a statement this morning explaining that the diva was invited to perform by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), a state-run oil and gas giant that organized the trip to Turkmenistan, and she "graciously obliged" their last-minute request. Her publicist bizarrely added that if Lopez had been aware of the country's human-rights issues, she would not have performed there. Apparently, no one in Lopez's office knows how to use Google.

If you remember from yesterday, J.Lo’s dancers posted about how much fun they were having at the $2 billion Caspian Sea resort. Today, the tweet from choreographer JR Taylor that read "I wonder where all my Turkmenistan followers are!? Hit me up!" was removed, likely because someone who does know to use Google discovered that, among their many human rights violations (which also include, widespread torture, considering political opposition treason, and making homosexuality illegal), the country’s regime-controlled ISP actually bans sites like Facebook and Twitter.

While it's still not clear how much Lopez earned for this particular appearance, The Guardian remembers that her past performances include the wedding of an Uzbek businessman in Ukraine, for which she was paid a reported $1 million, and one for the Azeri oligarch Telman Ismailov, for which she is said to have received $1.4 million. So, expect her to donate somewhere around $1 million in the next few days. 

Photo: Mike Moore/2013 Getty Images