Lopez’s birthday song sparks flap

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Lopez’s birthday song sparks flap

NEW YORK - Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday’’ to the leader of Turkmenistan during a show, but her representative said she wouldn’t have performed there at all if she had known there were human rights issues in the country.

The singer and actress performed in the former Soviet bloc country on Saturday night. A statement released Sunday by her publicist said the event was hosted by the China National Petroleum and wasn’t a political event.

However, the country’s leader, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, did attend. Berdimuhamedow has been criticized for his oppressive rule by human rights organizations. Human Rights Watch describes Turkmenistan as “among the most repressive in the world.’’ After a United Nations visit last month, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic said the country had made progress in the area of human rights, but “a lot more work is needed to complete this process and to ensure practice is in line with international standards.’’ AP
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