Human Rights Activists Urge Nicki Minaj to Cancel Concert in Angola

The show is being funded by the dictator-controlled government.
Rapper Nicki Minaj speaks onstage at A+E Networks' 'Shining a Light' concert at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Nov. 18. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
Dec 16, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

Nicki Minaj has used her enormous social media following to slam gender double standards, educate others about cultural appropriation, and spread awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement. But human rights activists say her scheduled appearance at a festival on Saturday makes her complicit with injustices abroad.

In a letter addressed to the Trinidad and Tobago–born artist on Tuesday, Human Rights Foundation President Thor Halvorssen urged Minaj not to perform at a concert in Angola produced by Unitel, a cell phone company controlled by Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of longtime dictator Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

“During their brutal three-decade authoritarian rule, the dos Santos family has exploited Angola’s diamond and oil wealth to amass an illegitimate fortune while maintaining control over all branches of the government, the military, and civil society,” Halvorssen wrote. “Dos Santos has made it his policy to harass, imprison, or kill politicians, journalists, and activists who protest his rule.”

One of the activists behind bars for speaking out against the Angolan government is rapper Luaty Beirão, who was arrested in June along with 14 others after being accused of plotting to overthrow dos Santos. Amnesty International, which has called for the release of the 15 prisoners, maintains that the charges are falsely based on illegal warrants and unjust seizures. Following five months of detention and a life-threatening hunger strike that lasted 36 days, Beirão’s trial began on Nov. 16. While the trial is ongoing, human rights advocates have expressed concern about corruption in Angola’s justice system.

Other organizations, including Transparency International and Reporters Without Borders, have raised alarm over Angola’s totalitarian regime. In Reporters Without Borders’ annual index of 180 countries that best protect journalists’ freedoms, Angola ranked in the bottom 60, below Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. Transparency International gave Angola similarly low marks: In a measurement of corruption in public sectors, the South African nation of more than 19 million ranked 161 out of 175.

Halvorssen’s plea doesn’t seem to be having much sway with Minaj, who on Tuesday tweeted about her excitement for the Angola show. She has yet to comment on the letter.