All Articles Tagged "human rights"
Babyface Changes Wedding Venue Last Minute To Protest Sultan Of Brunei’s Criminal Code That Punishes Gays By Stoning Them To Death
Back in February, we told you that Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds was engaged to marry long-time girlfriend, Nicole Patenburg. According to TMZ, the couple’s wedding was scheduled to take place this Saturday at the Hotel Bel-Air, but in an interesting turn of events, the ten-time Grammy Award-winning musician decided to change the wedding venue last-minute.
The shocking venue switch is a part of a huge boycott, in which celebrities, gay rights groups and ordinary citizens are participating in to protest against the hotel’s owner, Hassanal Bolkiah, who is the Sultan of Brunei. He also owns the Beverly Hills Hotel.The protest is in response to a new Sharia-based criminal code in his home country, which will be implemented over the next few years. According to TIME, the code will “punish gay people with death by stoning.” Ironically, the Beverly Hills Hotel offers a variety of pricey same-sex wedding packages. Protestors say the Sultan’s actions are extremely offensive and utterly hypocritical.
It’s unclear where Babyface has decided to move his wedding, but sources say the wedding is definitely still on and will be held at a different venue in Beverly Hills. Interesting enough, it’s reported that Babyface isn’t the only celeb who pulled out of holding an event at one of the landmark hotels owned by the Sultan in recent weeks. Kim Kardashian was also reportedly scheduled to hold her bridal shower last weekend at the Beverly Hills Hotel, but decided to move it to another location.
Kanye West has made a career of pissing people off. He’s done it again. This time the people are human rights activists.
West was in Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, performing at the wedding reception of Aisultan Nazarbayev, the 23-year-old grandson of Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, reports Mother Jones.
“Nazarbayev has ruled the central Asian country for 23 years since its independence from the dissolved Soviet Union, and has come under fire by human rights organizations for his authoritarian tactics, including attacks on a free press, torture, torpedoing workers’ rights, and jailing the political opposition,” writes the magazine. West isn’t the first artist to be asked to perform in the country. Rock legend Sting was to perform there in 2011, but canceled after Amnesty International informed him about the human rights abuses.
Ye reportedly received $3 million for the gig for which he performed a number of songs, including a rendition of “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.”
According to a news agency in Kazakhstan, West was a personal guest of the controversial dictator. This has riled human rights advocates worldwide, with many of them pointing out that if West lived in the country he would not have the right to express himself as he does.
“Kazakhstan is a human rights wasteland,” Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), said in a statement sent to Mother Jones. “The regime crushes freedom of speech and association; someone like Kanye, who makes a living expressing his views, would find himself in a prison under Nazarbayev’s rule.”
There is more. “The millions of dollars paid to West came from the loot stolen from the Kazakhstan treasury,” said Garry Kasparov, chairman of HRF. “West has supported numerous charities throughout his career, including a few specifically focused on international human rights work. Kanye has entertained a brutal killer and his entourage…It’s up to the public to hold [him] accountable.”
Other celebrities have performed or visited controversial destinations. In 2012, reality TV star and the mother of West’s child, Kim Kardashian traveled to Bahrain, a regime at the center of a bloody crackdown on political dissidents. Beyoncé and Jay Z’s visit to Cuba stirred up some trouble for the pair. And earlier this summer, Jennifer Lopez was reamed by human rights groups for her paid performance at the birthday bash of 56-year-old Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the human-rights-suppressing dictator of Turkmenistan.
“Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Lionel Richie, and Usher had all danced and sung for relatives of the deceased Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi. Godfather of Soul James Brown and blues guitar legend B.B. King performed for Zaire president Mobutu Sese Seko, a vicious anti-communist tyrant. British supermodel Naomi Campbell was caught hanging out with Charles Taylor, a convicted war criminal and ex-president of Liberia,” reports Mother Jones. There are more.
West’s representatives did not respond to Mother Jones’ request for comment.
Do you think West should have performed in Kazakhstan?
Last week we told you that hip-hop power couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary on the beautiful island of Cuba. Although it looks like the love birds had a marvelous time during their visit to the largest island in the Caribbean, there’s just one problem… well, several problems.
America’s 51-year-old Embargo Act prohibits U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba solely for tourism purposes. Citizens can, however, visit by obtaining a “cultural exchange” license, reports the Associated Press. If the Carters attained the proper paperwork before making their trip, then no laws have been broken. But, if they haven’t, there may be consequences to pay.
Some have expressed that they find the couple’s trip to Cuba to be insensitive. Maurice Claver-Clarone, the D.C. Director for the US-Cuba Democracy PAC told TMZ that he’s disappointed that the Carters would vacation in such a country and insists that they educate themselves on Cuba’s human rights.
“There are women getting beaten on a daily basis, women who are being jailed for no reason … people are fighting for their freedom,” said Claver-Clarone.
He’s also urging the Obama administration to take action if it is revealed that the pair did not comply with guidelines of the Embargo Act for the trip.
“All we see is them celebrating, doing absolutely nothing to help the Cuban people. If that is the case and they have gone down there illegally, then I hope that the Obama administration doesn’t think they are above the law because the law applies equally to everyone,” Claver-Clarone continued.
The nature of the trip is currently being investigated by lawmakers.
“We represent a country of many who have been deeply and personally harmed by the Castro regime’s atrocities. The restrictions on tourism and travel are common-sense measures meant to prevent U.S. dollars from supporting a murderous regime,” wrote Florida Congresswoman Illeana Ros-Lehtinen in a letter to Adam J. Szubin, Director of Foreign Assets Control, where she inquired about the type of license that the celebrity couple obtained from the U.S. Department of Treasury for their trip.
Many believe that the couple’s Cuban excursion may have been in relation to Jay-Z seeking to recruit Cuban talent for his newly launched sports agency. So far, there has been no word from the Department of Treasury or the Carters regarding the trip.
What are your thoughts on all of this? Were Jay and Bey being insensitive when they decided to head to Cuba or is this being blown out of proportion?
Even China admits that they may not have the most liberal of governments. But at least, they say, they are not as hypocritical as the United States.
According to the Guardian, last week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized China for detaining artists such as AI Weiwei and others in the annual state department survey of the human rights situation around the world.
Well, China has a report of its own to refute U.S. criticism. State news agency Xinhua said the report “turned a blind eye to its own terrible human rights situation” and points to the U.S. government’s treatment of Wikileaks. The report also makes mention of domestic problems in the U.S. such as poverty, crime and racism. Furthermore, the report holds the U.S. responsible for the large number of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the prisoner abuse accounts.
The report concludes that the U.S. imposes double standards by “requesting unrestricted ‘internet freedom’ in other countries, which becomes an important diplomatic tool for the United States to impose pressure and seek hegemony, and imposing strict restriction within its territory.”
(Albany Times Union) — Residents barricaded themselves inside their homes Sunday, blanketing windows and pushing furniture against doors as this country on Africa’s western coast tensely awaited the final battle between the two men who claim the presidency. Fighters backing the internationally recognized president, Alassane Ouattara, amassed at a tollbooth on the city’s northern edge, preparing for the final assault. Their leader was declared the winner of last November’s election, but Ouattara has not been able to assume office because the outgoing president, Laurent Gbagbo, is refusing to yield power.
(Fast Company) — As the mobile for health space grows, its issue areas expand as well. The subject of human trafficking has recently caught the eye of one notable mobile health player in Africa, a group called Text to Change. Text to Change is getting ready to roll out its first human trafficking SMS alert campaign in the country of Cameroon, in cooperation with the children-focused local partner, CIPCRE. Text to Change started in 2007 in Uganda and is now expanding to 12 countries throughout the continent. They were one of the early players in mobile for health and their early success helped them win contracts with the likes of UNICEF, while still staying small and grassroots. “In terms of speed and implementation, we can teach larger organizations a lot. We move really fast,” founder Bas Hoefman tells Fast Company. And now that speed is being put to the test in one of the greatest public health threats the world faces today: the trafficking of innocent children for sexual exploitation, an ill that is spreading throughout the country of Cameroon.
(Wall Street Journal) — The Obama administration, citing reports that hundreds of antigovernment protesters had been killed and injured in Libya, demanded Sunday that Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s regime punish officials responsible for the violence. “We are working to ascertain the facts, but we have received multiple credible reports that hundreds of people have been killed and injured in several days of unrest,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement. He added that “the full extent of the death toll is unknown due to the lack of access of international media and human rights organizations.”
In the Libyan port city of Benghazi, security forces fired on a funeral procession for demonstrators killed in the last week’s protests. Human Rights Watch said they had confirmed 173 deaths in protests so far, doubling their toll from Saturday. But the group and doctors in Benghazi said they thought the final death toll would be significantly higher.
This week, first lady Michelle Obama reminded thousands at the NAACP Annual Convention in Kansas City, Mo. that the Civil Rights movement left a legacy that must be fulfilled, especially for our children.
(Associated Press) — A leading Congolese human rights activist killed this week had suffered a pattern of intimidation because of his work, a senior U.N. official said Thursday, as a rights group questioned whether police were already staging a cover-up. The body of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, head of Voix des Sans Voix, or Voice of the Voiceless, was found in his car Wednesday in a suburb of Congo’s capital. The rights group, one of the largest in Congo, said he appeared to have been strangled.