Dupri, a rapper, songwriter, and producer, spoke with Human Rights Foundation personnel on December 19. He explained that his client performed for Angolan mobile phone company Unitel and for the Angolan Red Cross and not for the dictator. When HRF reminded him that Unitel is owned by the dictator's family and that the Red Cross is run by the dictator's daughter, Dupri stated that he was unaware of this. When Dupri was confronted with the fact that Carey was embarrassed and apologetic when exposed in 2011 for performing for Muammar Gaddafi's family, Dupri stated that: “the Gaddafi situation is not my problem, that was way before my time.” Carey’s management had put out a statement attributed to her saying that “going forward, this is a lesson for all artists to learn from. We need to be more aware and take more responsibility regardless of who books our shows. Ultimately we as artists are to be held accountable.”
“Per her request, we are holding Mariah Carey accountable. Yet she remains aloof and silent. Meanwhile, her manager Jermaine Dupri exemplifies the greed and dishonesty of the industry types who pose for photos at human rights events one day and accept copious amounts of blood diamond money on the next day. Mariah’s million-dollar paycheck comes from a natural resource-looting kleptocracy that exists only to perpetuate one family’s control,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen.
Dupri indicated to HRF that no due diligence whatsoever was performed before Carey’s trip, admittedly not even a Google search for the term “Angola.” More importantly, when asked if Carey would be issuing any kind of statement about human rights in Angola after whitewashing the country’s dictator, Dupri repeatedly insisted to HRF that no such statement would be forthcoming. He stated that perhaps there was “some racism to HRF's position” and asked if an Angolan singer was invited by a U.S. phone company to perform in the United States—would HRF be active? “We explained to Dupri that if a U.S. president had been in power for 34 years, and had his daughter built a billion-dollar empire from shady contracting and government grants, HRF would most certainly be criticizing the Angolan performer for whitewashing the American tyrant.” said Halvorssen.
“Ironically, no Angolan performer enjoys the freedoms that Dupri and Carey have to rap or sing,” said HRF. “In Angola people who criticize the government tend to be imprisoned, tortured, and often times killed, as was the case last month with the late activist Manuel de Carvalho.”
Dupri kept pointing out that the Angolan gala was a charity event. In reality, the event, which cost several million dollars in fees, private jets, and promotional costs, raised a grand total of $65,000 to assist Angola’s Red Cross—less than the jet fuel for Mariah Carey’s Gulfstream charter. Dupri stated that Carey is a musician and “not involved with human rights matters.” When it was pointed out to him that Carey was a self-styled advocate for rights and justice, appearing at events for organizations like UNICEF, Dupri repeated that he and Carey were only artists with “no position” on human rights. Dupri, who has attended several human rights events that have featured him on the red carpet, received the Bill of Rights Award from the ACLU in 2008. “I lend my voice, people ask me to do things (to help)… I lend my voice, thoughts and how I feel,” he told the press at the time.
“It is not believable that artists know nothing when they are performing abroad yet are experts in human rights when they collect awards or pose with the glitterati at major fundraisers,” said HRF international council member George Ayittey, a former political prisoner from Ghana. “The dishonesty and gluttony is glaring. Most Angolans live on less than $2 a day and have no way of redressing their grievances. Angola’s people are poor not because the country is ‘poor’ but because the dos Santos family chokes the wealth out of the nation, prevents rule of law and property rights, and eliminates opposing voices. And yet Dupri and Carey have absolutely no problem accepting copious amounts of diamond and oil money to fete these briefcase bandits.”
Earlier this year, Jennifer Lopez also pleaded ignorance after performing for Turkmenistan’s totalitarian regime. Weeks later, it was revealed by HRF that Lopez had, in a concerted and longstanding effort, collected more than $9M in looted and stolen money from across Central Asia. In one particular case, Russian government official Alexander Yolkin paid Lopez $2 million but he was arrested for corruption the day before she was to perform at his birthday. Despite worldwide criticism from dozens of human rights organizations, Lopez refused to donate any of her payments from shady sources and issued a mealy-mouthed apology setting the lowest bar imaginable for a world-renowned artist.
“Here is an opportunity for Mariah to do what JLo would not—donate the money she received from Angola’s dictators to that country’s embattled journalists and activists struggling for democracy and justice,” said Halvorssen. At the time of this press release, and in a transparent attempt at shifting the conversation away from Angola, Mariah Carey publicized a fundraiser for New York’s St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
HRF is a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that protects and promotes human rights globally, with an expertise in the Americas. We believe that all human beings are entitled to freedom of self-determination, freedom from tyranny, the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF does not support nor condone violence. HRF’s International Council includes human rights advocates George Ayittey, Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Garry Kasparov, Mutabar Tadjibaeva, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.
Cindi Berger, public relations for Mariah Carey, firstname.lastname@example.org, @cindiberger
Jermaine Dupri, manager for Mariah Carey, @jermainedupri
Whitney Tancred, publist for Jennifer Lopez, email@example.com
Thor Halvorssen, Human Rights Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org, @thorhalvorssen