The Sting of Criticism
Sting, who was scheduled to play tonight as part of the Astana Day festivities, has cancelled his engagement in Kazakhstan after Amnesty International apprised him of the situation with striking oil workers in West Kazakhstan:
Amnesty International recently apprised Sting about the situation in Kazakhstan regarding the repression and crackdown against oil workers, their union leaders, their legal representatives & of the human rights NGOs working with them. In light of this current situation, with the unacceptable treatment being meted to these Kazakh oil/gas workers, their families and legal representation, which is extremely serious and continues to worsen, Amnesty International feel his presence in Astana will be interpreted as an endorsement of the presidents’ administration and surely will go against everything he has stood for, while supporting Amnesty and the fight for human rights, for the past 40 years. As a result, Sting has made a decision not to participate in the Astana Day Festival.
“Hunger strikes, imprisoned workers and tens of thousands on strike represents a virtual picket line which I have no intention of crossing,” Sting commented. “The Kazakh gas and oil workers and their families need our support and the spotlight of the international media on their situation in the hope of bringing about positive change.”
Sting got quite a bit of criticism for playing in Uzbekistan two years ago, an incident that got more attention recently when Lola Karimova-Tilyaeva, daughter of dictator Islam Karimov, sued a French newspaper for libel for calling her a “dictator’s daughter” (She lost on the truth-defense; evidence suggests Karimov is a dictator).
And in general the Kazakhstan regime has been criticized in the past for bringing in big names to play for their birthday parties, their kids’ birthday parties, but not for the population in general. Tickets to see Sting cost from 10,000 tenge to 100,000 tenge. We paid about 20,000 to see Mashina Vremini so the range was reasonable.
For some reason, the Astana city official website simply states that, “According to the organizers, Sting’s concert is canceled due to reasons beyond the control of the Kazakh side, since all conditions of technical and everyday artist’s rider were performed at 100%.” Nothing about the strikes.
Incidentally, Sting also played the New Year’s concert/TV special in Russia last year.