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Kanye West Criticized for Performing in Kazakhstan

Kanye West
Pascal Le Segretain, Getty Images

Kanye West is under fire from an international human rights group for his performance Saturday (Sept. 1) at a wedding reception for the grandson of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The Human Rights Foundation has criticized Yeezy for performing in Kazakhstan, which has a notorious reputation for violating human rights.

“Kazakhstan is a human rights wasteland,” Thor Halvorssen, president of the HRF said Tuesday in a statement (via WSJ’s Speakeasy). “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. This particular dictator’s ruthless behavior includes kidnapping the families of dissidents to his rule and abusing judicial systems across the world in persecuting his opponents.”

The group compares West’s show to a performance by Jennifer Lopez earlier this summer in Turkmenistan, a country that has also been censured for human rights violations. J.Lo has since apologized for her appearance.

The ‘Blood on the Leaves’ rapper was reportedly paid $3 million for his performance and took photos with guests at the reception afterward.

Halvorssen believes West’s gig undermines his own charities and commitment to the arts and humanities.

“It was a very strong debut, but the money paid to him was looted from the government of Kazakhstan,” he said. “Kanye West is legitimizing these people. He has been very loud about his charity work, so this case is ironic.”

West’s rep had no comment on the matter.

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