June 30, 2013


J. Lo Plays Controversial Show for Turkmenistan President

Mike Marsland/WireImage
Mike Marsland/WireImage

Jennifer Lopez played an intimate show last night for the president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov's 56th birthday.

According to the Guardian, the performance took place at the swanky southern resort of Avaza on the Caspian coast. It was attended by a small group of selected government officials, diplomats and executives.

Human Rights Watch lists Turkmenistan as "one of the world's most repressive countries." The 2012 HRW report stated:

"The country remains closed to independent scrutiny, media and religious freedoms are subject to draconian restrictions, and human rights defenders face constant threat of government reprisal. The United Nations Committee against Torture expressed concern about allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment, and of enforced disappearances in custody."

The night's festivities were hosted by the China National Petroleum Corporation, which took credit for bringing Lopez to Turkmenistan.

Lopez shouted out "Turkmenistan!" as she took the stage for a performance that included many of her greatest hits.

She changed from a clingy, white dress into the traditional Turkmen outfit at the end of the show to serenade Berdymukhamedov with "Happy Birthday, Mr. President." Lopez closed the show with:

"It was our pleasure. And we wish you the very happiest birthday."

A publicist for the "Jenny From the Block" singer sent a statement to the Associated Press this afternoon stating:

"Had there been knowledge of human rights issues any kind, Jennifer would not have attended."

Watch an edited version of the performance—including copious fireworks—below: