Kanye West Performs for Kazakh Dictator

Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Kanye West and Shynar Nermatova (photo: east2west news)

Kanye West has become the latest celebrity to get into trouble for attending a Central Asian dictator’s lavish celebration.


This time the country was Kazakhstan, where West showed up—after getting paid $3 million—to participate in the wedding festivities of Aysultan Nazarbayev, grandson of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the country’s ruler.


Nursultan Nazarbayev has been accused of corruption, as well as violating human rights. According to the U.S. State Department, Nazarbayev’s human rights transgressions include, “severe limits on citizens’ rights to change their government; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, and association; and lack of an independent judiciary and due process, especially in dealing with pervasive corruption and law enforcement and judicial abuse…arbitrary or unlawful killings; military hazing that led to deaths; detainee and prisoner torture and other abuse; harsh and sometimes life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; infringements on citizens’ privacy rights; restrictions on freedom of religion.”


West, whose songs include “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” apparently chose to ignore these concerns.


The hip-hop artist performed at the wedding reception, held at the Grand Tulip Hotel, before what was described as a “listless crowd,” according to the British newspaper The Independent.


The humanitarian group, Human Rights Foundation (HRF), accused West of “blithely” ignoring Kazakhstan’s troubles in exchange for money that “was obtained as a product of graft and theft,” HRF President Thor Halvorssen said in a prepared statement.


West is just the latest member of the glitterati to appear at a special event hosted by a Central Asian despot.


In July, Jennifer Lopez was criticized for singing at the birthday party for the president of Turkmenistan, who also stands accused of committing widespread human rights abuses.


Before that, Hilary Swank apologized after showing up at a birthday event for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who had been accused of torture and killings.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Kanye West Attacked for $3m Kazakhstan President Gig (by Adam Sherwin, The Independent)

Kanye West Poses with Glamorous Kazakh 'Princesses' as He Picks Up $3 million for Performing at Wedding of Dictator's Grandson (by Anthony Bond, Daily Mail)

Kanye West’s $3 Million Performance is a Symbol of Endemic Corruption in Kazakhstan; Regime Illegally Arrested and Deported Family of Dissident from Italy (Human Rights Foundation)

Jennifer Lopez Honors One of World’s Worst Dictators (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Hilary Swank and Jean-Claude Van Damme Celebrate Birthday of Chechen Warlord (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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