Once again, I am mixing my love for green and pop culture together. This time, it is for celebrities that celebrated a reported bad guy.
Last week, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov celebrated his 35th birthday in style. Showing up to help him celebrate (not unpaid I might add) was Academy Award winning actress Hilary Swank and action star Jean-Claude Van Damme. Rumors are that British violinist Vanessa-Mae received as much as $500,000 dollars to play at the party. Kevin Costner, Eva Mendes, and Shakira were also all invited, but didn’t show up.
There is nothing wrong with throwing a big old shindig for your birthday, right? After all, some had praised Kadyrov for bringing both peace and stability to Chechnya.
But, hold on a second, not everyone’s happy. The Human Rights Foundation, a nonprofit that defends and supports human rights worldwide, does have a problem with it. The organization (and many others) claims that Kadyrov is a violator of human rights. Several of Kadyrov’s rivals have been assassinated and many believe he was involved in the killings, although he had denied it. In 2009, he said he approved of honor killings, where one has the right to murder a relative who has dishonored the family. In 2010, he was quoted as saying those who defended human rights in his country were the “people’s enemies.”
At the celebration, Van Damme told Kadyrov “I love you,” while Swank said it was “a great honor to learn more about you and your country” before wishing Kadyrov “Happy Birthday.” Thor Halvorssen, the president of the Human Rights Foundation, said that stars showing up for the celebration was “disheartening and shameful” and the organization is calling for them to return any monies paid to them for attending. He went on to say, “Would she have accepted an invitation to entertain Pinochet? Al-Qaeda? The apartheid government in Pretoria?”
Personally, I think it is tacky for any celebrity to show up at a party for pay, but then maybe I would feel differently if someone offered me $500,000 to show up. Still, it seems it would behoove their managers to find out exactly whom they are celebrating before they attend and how it might hurt their reputation.