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(New York) – The entertainer Jennifer Lopez should consider donating the payment for performing for the president of Turkmenistan to a charity that supports the victims of his rule, Human Rights Watch said today.

Lopez performed at a June 29 event staged by the China National Petroleum Corporation to celebrate the birthday of Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the president of Turkmenistan, who rules the country with an iron fist.

Lopez’s publicist has claimed the singer was unaware of any human rights issues in Turkmenistan at the time.

“Jennifer Lopez could make amends for this blunder by donating the proceeds to a worthy cause,” said Carroll Bogert, deputy executive director for external relations at Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch suggested organizations such as Front Line Defenders, a non-profit assisting at-risk human rights defenders in Central Asia, or the United Nations Fund for Victims of Torture, as possible recipients.

“The government of Turkmenistan has a terrible record of torture, and has virtually silenced the human rights activists who have tried to speak out,” Bogert said. “For Lopez to support those causes would show that she understands now why so many people were offended by this episode.”

Turkmenistan is one of the most closed countries in the world, with no independent media or political parties, no freedom of speech or freedom of assembly, and virtually no access for monitors from outside the country, such as the United Nations and others, to investigate the full extent of the government’s human rights violations.

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