ANKARA (AA) – American hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj’s upcoming performance in oil-rich Angola has become controversial after a prominent human rights body objected to her “doing business” with a country known for its poor human rights record.
The New-York based Human Rights Foundation called on Minaj to cancel her trip to the southwestern African state where she is set to perform Saturday at a concert organized by an Angolan mobile phone company, Unitel.
Unitel is controlled by Isabel dos Santos, daughter of Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been at the helm for decades.
“Nicki Minaj is a global artist. Millions of people look up to her for creative inspiration. There is no good reason for her to do business with the corrupt Angolan dictatorship and endorse the ruler’s family company,” the foundation’s President, Thor Halvorssen, said in an open letter to Minaj.
“Ms. Minaj, you are well known for being involved with charities…which helps motivate young people to graduate from high school and succeed in college. Yet, if you move forward with this performance for the dictator and his family, you will be in league with the people stealing educational resources and opportunity from young Angolans,” the letter added.
The foundation also brought attention to the plight of those jailed in Angola this month for opposing the regime, including an Angolan rapper and hip-hop artist, Luaty Beirao.
Last June, Angolan authorities jailed 17 peace activists, including Beirao in the Angolan capital Luanda after attending a meeting on democracy and nonviolence. They will be tried for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Angolan government.
In recent years, rights groups across the world, including Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Amnesty International, and Transparency International have accused Angola’s dos Santos regime of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and torture.
According to the foundation, an average Angolan lives on just $2 per day “yet the dictator and his family have amassed more than $3.5 billion”.
President dos Santos has been in power since 1979. He is accused of positioning close members of his family to own the country’s major business.
Minaj is not the first artist to accept huge sums of money for performing in Angola. In 2013, Mariah Carey reportedly received one million dollars for her performance in the same African country.
According to Human Rights Foundation, “other celebrity recipients of dictator cash” from countries around the world include the American actress Hilary Swank, Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi, and U.S. pop singers Erykah Badu, Jennifer Lopez, and Kanye West.
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