Rocker Sting has been urged to donate concert cash he received after performing for the daughter of Uzbek dictator President Islam Karimov to charity by critics opposed to the private show. The former The Police's star, an avid human rights campaigner and environmental activist, has come under fire for playing the secret gig in Tashkent in November 2009.
Protesters claim Sting should have rejected the offer to sing for Gulnara Karimova, whose father rules a country with one of the world's worst records for human rights abuses. Karimov has been criticized repeatedly by the international community and non-governmental organizations like the United Nations and the European Commission of running a brutal dictatorship, violently suppressing political activism, free speech and religious worship with torture. Karimov's administration has also been embroiled in allegations of financial corruption.
Sting's managers reportedly ignored previous calls from the Global Witness campaign group to scrap the gig after being alerted to Karimov's track record. Gavin Hayman, campaign director of Global Witness, says, "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."
Now members of non-political campaign group Uzbekistan Exposed are targeting Sting, citing his support of Amnesty International, and calling for the singer to hand over the "blood money" to human rights charities to salvage his reputation. Alex Yearsley, director of Uzbekistan Exposed, says, "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 pound sterling-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."
A petition has been launched online for fans to show their disapproval of Sting's concert decision and urge him to make the charitable donation.