Jennifer Lopez is apologizing for singing “Happy Birthday” to Turkmenistan’s strongman dictator. The pop diva performed for President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow in his home country Saturday night despite his oppressive record of human rights violations. Lopez’s publicist did some hasty damage control, saying the concert, sponsored by China National Petroleum Corp., was not a political event and that “had there been knowledge of human rights issues any kind, Jennifer would not have attended,” reports the Associated Press. No mention of what happens to J-Lo’s appearance fee. She’s the latest star called out after schmoozing-for-pay with wealthy tyrants: In 2011, Hilary Swank donated her six-figure fee for appearing at Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s birthday to charity after criticism from human-rights advocates; Beyonce and Usher similarly washed their hands of the checks they cashed from performances for Libya’s Gaddafi family.
Updated, 7/1: Good news — there is video of J-Lo’s performance in Turkmenistan.
Earlier: When celebrities perform for the world’s tyrants, 10/21/11