J. Lo's Marilyn Monroe moment may not have gone as well as she planned.
You see, when Monroe sang the words "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to John F. Kennedy, the controversy arose by murmurs of an affair. When J. Lo sang those words, scandal came by means of scathing headlines about human-rights violations and violent dictatorships. Not all press is good press, folks.
But in case you haven't seen all of the press about her recent dictatorial faux pas, here's what happened. The Chinese National Petroleum Corporation paid Jenny From the Block to perform at birthday party for Turkmenistani president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, taking place at a resort in the Caspian Sea. Thing is, according to Human Rights Watch (and nearly every other watchdog group), he happens to be one hell of a nasty dude.
He has a penchant for removing the most basic human rights of Turkmen citizens; free speech and freedom of religion are a no-no, and threats and torture are a tool the heavy-handed dictator uses liberally to keep those type of things in check. According to HRW, the nation has one of the most closed, repressive governments in the world, and yet it's still one for which J. Lo not only performed, but also gave a shout-out to during her performance.
Yes, a shout-out. Somewhere along the way, J. Lo not only told the president-cum-dictator, "It was our pleasure, and we wish you the very happiest birthday," but also shouted, "Turkmenistan!" to the crowd. As long as she's reppin' the president's hood, right?
So, yeah. People were obviously puzzled and somewhat outraged that Lopez would do the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation -- whom she now blames for inviting her -- a solid by wishing the dude a happy birthday, and rightfully so.
The country, under the current regime, is wrought with a terrible record of torture, Internet censorship, prison abuse -- you name it, they've done it -- and this birthday celebration was part of a week-long propaganda fest, billed as a cultural week that happened to coincide with Berdymukhamedov's birthday.
Jenny from the Block, for her part, has claimed naivete about the Turkmen ruler's record, stating that had she known about the human-rights violations, she would not have agreed to perform.
The CNPC "made a last-minute 'birthday greeting' request prior to Jennifer taking the stage," J. Lo's publicist said in a statement. "This was not stipulated in her contract but she graciously obliged."
Given that it's the age of the Google, and information on things like "presidents who are also evil overlords" is readily available at the drop of a smartphone, it's hard to understand how nobody in that notoriously enormous camp that surrounds J. Lo had any idea of the world around them, but that's the story and they're stickin' to it.
Since no one in J. Lo's camp seems to know how to search the Internet for things like 'possible dictator birthday parties" or "dangerous-nation heads of state to perform for," we here at Rocks Off thought we'd help her out a bit so that this little snafu doesn't happen again. You know, for next time.
Here's our list, J. Lo: Five World Leaders Who Don't Deserve a Happy Birthday.
Kim Jong-un, North Korea Don't believe the hype on this whole "first beach resort in North Korea" thing from Kim Jong-un, J. Lo. The guy's a bad, bad man who has followed in the human-rights-violations footsteps of his father, Kim Jong-il, ordering defectors killed, instituting public executions, and sending people to political prison camps. In short, don't give him a shout-out, no matter what he pays you to do so.
4. Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan This "elected" ruler of Uzbekistan won the race for president back in 2000 with 91.9 percent of the vote, going against an opponent who has admitted that he only entered the race to give the illusion of democracy. His reelection was even more obviously fixed, with him earning not only 99.6 percent of the vote, but it was also instituted on some shady-ass ballot counting that tallied unmarked cards and non-voters as a yes.
Under his rule, there are no press freedoms, and human-rights violations include widespread torture, kidnapping, murder, rape by the police, financial corruption, religious persecution, censorship, and other human-rights abuses that are equally as heinous. No happy birthdays for Karimov, please.
3. Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus This Lukashenko dude has been president of Belarus since freakin' 1994, and under his rule, the country has been called "the last true remaining dictatorship in the heart of Europe" by both European and American leaders. Both he and his officers have been subject to sanctions for their human-rights violations since 2006, despite Lukashenko marketing himself as a man of the people.
He's praised Adolf Hitler, made anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli comments, and allegedly does stuff like digging up a Jewish cemetery to build a sports stadium, all while continuing his stranglehold on religious, political, and journalistic freedoms. In other words, no matter how much the CNPC offers you, don't sing for him, J. Lo.
2. Omar al-Bashir, Sudan Al-Bashir took control of Sudan during a 1989 military coup, and has been accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Darfur, for which the International Crime Court issued a warrant for his arrest both in 2009 and 2010. The ICC issued an additional warrant adding three counts of genocide for the ethnic cleansing of the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa tribes, stating that, "There are reasonable grounds to believe that [Omar al-Bashir] acted with specific intent to destroy in part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in the troubled Darfur region."
In layman's terms, there's reason to believe this guy has been responsible for killing a ton of people based on their ethnicity and, well, just because he sucks. Stay away from his parties.
1. Emomali Rahmon, Tajikistan Rahmon has been president of Tajikistan since 1994, and Wikileaks clued us in to just what level of corruption he's been involved in when the U.S. diplomatic cables were leaked in 2010. He uses his country's economy for his own personal profit, controlling the country's largest businesses -- including banks -- leaving the state treasury to see little of the income from the two largest exports, aluminum and hydroelectricity.
A 2010 U.S. State Department report lists the human-rights violations in Tajikistan, which include restricted political freedoms, torture and abuse by security forces, impunity for security forces, denial of right to fair trial, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, association, and religion, corruption which has hampered democratic and social reform, violence and discrimination against women, arbitrary arrest, and human trafficking.
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So please, no Tajikistan shout-outs, please.