Tyga is pulling out of a controversial concert appearance in Belarus after being urged by a human rights group to cancel,
A human rights group is asking Tyga to cancel an upcoming show in Belarus, claiming the rapper’s performance has been designed as a distraction to draw focus from an upcoming election that could end the 26-year reign of dictator Alexander Lushashenko.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the U.S.-based Human Rights Foundation has requested that Tyga (whose real name is Michael Ray Stevenson) withdraw from his Aug. 8 performance at Hip Hop Fireworks in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, pointing out that the government-sponsored event is scheduled for the night before the country’s presidential election and is part of a “plan to distract protestors from gathering at opposition rallies.”
In a letter sent to the rapper, the foundation implies that Tyga is an unwitting pawn in a larger scheme, claiming that the concert was “organized and funded by the Belarusian dictatorship, led by Alexander Lukashenko,” adding that under his leadership the country has “no freedom of speech, no freedom of assembly, and no freedom of association.”
Human rights in Belarus, the foundation notes, are practically nonexistent under Lushashenko’s authoritarian regime.
“This performance, scheduled for the day before Belarus’ elections, is no coincidence. It is an excuse to cancel the opposition’s final electoral rally, and prevent ordinary Belarusians from showing their support for freedom and democracy,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen in a statement. “It is also a deliberate attempt to turn attention away from the massive electoral fraud that is already taking place across the country. Simply put: Your concert will serve as propaganda for Lukashenko’s authoritarian regime the day before the election.”
Added Halvorssen: “His support for Lukashenko’s regime will greatly undermine the activism he has encouraged in the United States, and provide the Belarusian dictator a useful propaganda stunt. We hope he will stand on the side of the people of Belarus as opposed to their oppressor. He must decline the invitation to perform for the dictator.”
Following the publication of that open letter, Tyga announced his decision to cancel the performance in order “to avoid any conflict with the Belarus elections.”
I was looking forward to playing in Minsk for my fans in Belarus in the spirit of bringing great music to a market I’ve never played before.
— T-Raww (@Tyga) August 6, 2020
My performance was not politically motivated and to avoid any conflict with the Belarus elections, I will not be performing on August 8th in Minsk. I hope to be back to play for my fans there at a future date.
— T-Raww (@Tyga) August 6, 2020
Rapper SAINt JHN, who was also on the bill, likewise dropped out of the show, sharing the news in a video he posted on social media.
“Right now ain’t the time… This just ain’t it. When things calm down and get a little more quiet,” he said. “Everyone in Belarus that really f**ks with us, thank y’all sincerely. But not today, and not tomorrow. Somewhere a little bit later down the line.”
✝️✝️ y’all already know my views. Belarus, see y’all when the world opens up. pic.twitter.com/qGBWE8NtsN
— SAINt (@SAINtJHN) August 7, 2020