Jennifer Lopez apologizes for Turkmenistan show

The singer performed "Happy Birthday" for the country's dictator, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow

Published June 30, 2013 9:01PM (EDT)

A spokesman for Jennifer Lopez has apologized for the singer's performance of "Happy Birthday" for the authoritarian president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, during a show in the country on Saturday.

Lopez's publicist said that the event was not political, and was sponsored by the China National Petroleum Corp., and "Had there been knowledge of human rights issues any kind, Jennifer would not have attended," the Associated Press reports.

According to the State Department's latest report on human rights in Turkmenistan, "security officials tortured and beat criminal suspects, prisoners, and individuals deemed critical of the government to extract confessions and as a form of punishment."

"Although the constitution declares Turkmenistan to be a secular democracy and a presidential republic, the country has an authoritarian government controlled by the president, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov," the report says.

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Dictators Jennifer Lopez Pop Singer State Department Turkmenistan