Recently Jennifer Lopez traveled to Turkmenistan to sing in an event hosted by the China National Petroleum Corp., and, in participating, inadvertently praised the nation’s repressive leader. Although it wasn’t on the set list for the evening, at the last minute J. Lo was asked by the executives of the company to sing “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, the leader of Turkmenistan, who was attending the concert. Human Rights Watch has listed the dictator as one of the most repressive leaders in the world.

Lopez herself has worked on many philanthropic projects involving human rights. Recently she worked with Amnesty International to curb violence against women in Mexico. She also made an appearance for the Children’s Defense Fund and is currently working for increasing health care in Panama. Despite being involved with several human rights organizations to improve life for others, she claimed that she was unaware of the repressive conditions in Turkmenistan.

J. Lo’s situation should be a reminder to all of us to raise awareness and keep in touch with what is going on around the world. It is important for both cultural icons and ordinary citizens to learn about which countries struggle with obtaining even the most basic rights, and discover the reasons behind those struggles.

– Katie Brockman

Sources: ABC News, Variety
Photo: University UN