HRF Urges Black Eyed Peas and Enrique Iglesias to Cancel Concert in Saudi Arabia
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (November 30, 2018) — On December 13th and 14th, world-famous recording artists the Black Eyed Peas, Enrique Iglesias, and David Guetta are booked to perform at the Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix, the latest in a series of major PR events hosted by the Saudi Kingdom as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030” plan to improve the country’s standing and reputation on the world stage.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is urging the Black Eyed Peas, Enrique Iglesias, and all other scheduled artists to cancel their participation in an event hosted and sponsored by the regime of Saudi strongman Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the architect of a litany of human rights crimes. In recent months, MBS has ordered the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, presided over the torture of Saudi women’s rights activists, and led a brutal military offensive in Yemen, killing thousands of civilians and resulting in one of the world’s most devastating humanitarian crises.
“It is outrageous that these artists — who are admired and idolized by millions of people — have agreed to do business with the murderous regime of MBS,” said HRF chairman Garry Kasparov. “The hypocrisy of these musicians, who have previously called upon their fans to stand up for social justice and human rights, will destroy their credibility and reputation,” said Kasparov.
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. Its de facto ruler, MBS, crushes anyone who dares to criticize his policies or call for reform. Since coming to power in June of 2017, MBS has systematically eliminated many of his political opponents and has introduced legal measures to criminalize peaceful dissent. His crackdown has intensified in the past year with the jailing of thousands of journalists, civil society members, activists and intellectuals, many of whom have been detained for months without being charged. Women’s rights activists who had advocated to lift the driving ban are currently jailed and being subjected to torture that includes electric shocks, flogging, and sexual harassment. Last month’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi is perhaps the most brazen example of the extreme violence that MBS will exert in order to silence his critics.
The Black Eyed Peas are one of the most successful musical groups of all time. At the height of their fame, the group participated in Amnesty International’s “Make Some Noise” campaign to mobilize activism in response to human rights crises around the world. The global launch of “Make Some Noise” took place on International Human Rights Day. The Black Eyed Peas recorded a cover of John Lennon’s “Power to the People” for the campaign’s fundraising album, which features tracks by some of the world’s most famous musicians. While promoting the album’s release in 2006, the Black Eyed Peas referred to “Power to the People” as “the ultimate anthem” and called on their fans to “use collective power to make change.”
Enrique Iglesias is the most successful Latin recording artist in music history and has sold nearly 200 million albums worldwide. He holds countless industry records and more than 10 billion people have viewed his music videos on YouTube. In the past decade, Iglesias has partnered with multiple international humanitarian organizations to help raise money and awareness.
“HRF hopes that the Black Eyed Peas, Enrique Iglesias, and the other artists scheduled to perform in Saudi Arabia next month will cancel their performances immediately and apologize not just to their millions of fans, but also to the thousands of people who have been unlawfully imprisoned and tortured at the hands of the Saudi government,” said Kasparov.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.
To read HRF’s op-ed about the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, click here. To read Khashoggi’s writings from the Oslo Freedom Forum, click here. To learn more about the Saudi women’s rights movement, watch this Oslo Freedom Forum talk from Manal al-Sharif.
Tell the Black Eyed Peas and Enrique Iglesias that performing in Saudi Arabia just weeks after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and while the Saudi government is torturing female activists and bombing Yemen is unacceptable. Urge them to cancel their performances immediately.
Scooter Braun, Manager of the Black Eyed Peas
Contact Scooter Braun on Twitter: @scooterbraun
Contact the Black Eyed Peas on Twitter: @bep
Taboo Nawasha: @TabBep