Artist News

Sting criticised over Uzbekistan show

By | Published on Tuesday 13 April 2010

Human rights groups have reacted angrily to news that Sting recently performed a private show for the daughter of Uzbekistan dictator President Islam Karimov, who reportedly has one of the world’s worst records for human right abuses, using torture to suppress political activism and religious freedom.

The show took place last October and was organised by children’s charity Unicef, but has brought new criticism recently, with calls for the former Police frontman to donate his fee, thought to be £2 million, to charity.

Campaign director of Global Witness, Gavin Hayman said that they had attempted to contact Sting ahead of the show last year, saying: “We heard that Sting was to play in Uzbekistan and so we phoned and then sent an email to his publicist, Tracy Bufferd, to inform them about the brutal repression in Uzbekistan. We did not receive any response”.
Meanwhile, Alex Yearsley, director of campaign group Uzbekistan Exposed, added: “We shall campaign relentlessly and vocally until Sting does the right thing and puts this blood money to good use. We were shocked to learn that Sting had given this secret concert and received a reported £2 million-plus for his work. Many pro-democracy and human rights groups were outraged and saddened in equal measure that he was prepared to perform for the daughter of this brutal dictator. Through his actions, he has severely damaged his credibility as a human rights activist and environmental campaigner. But it is not too late for Sting to redeem himself”.

In a statement, Sting defended his decision to play the show, saying: “I believe boycotts are counter-productive, [and result in] states [being] robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art and [they] become more insular”.

Despite this, an online petition has now been launched, urging the musician to donate his fee to charity.