Aging British rock star has cancelled a concert in Kazakhstan to protest the crackdown by that country’s president upon striking oil and gas workers.
In a statement on his website, Sting indicated that the British-based human rights group Amnesty International informed him about the worsening situation in the central Asian republic.
“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 [Sting’s] presence in Astana [the Kazakh capital] will be interpreted as an endorsement of the presidents’ administration and surely will go against everything [Sting] has stood for, while supporting Amnesty and the fight for human rights, for the past 40 years,” the statement read.
“As a result, Sting has made a decision not to participate in the Astana Day Festival.”
Sting himself told media: Hunger strikes, imprisoned workers and tens of thousands on strike represents a virtual picket line which I have no intention of crossing. 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, who had been widely criticized for appearing at a concert in another even more repressive central Asian nation, Uzbekistan, only two years ago, again faced accusations of hypocrisy when he announced his Astana show in May as part of his “Synchronicity World Tour.”
Sting’s performance was to have coincided with celebrations surrounding the July 6th birthday of Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev.
During last year’s birthday celebration, Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli sang for the president.
Meanwhile, in Kazakhstan, energy workers have been on strike for forty days. Last week, the state oil company fired 250 employees for violating terms of their contract.
Born Gordon Sumner, Sting. Now 59, attained global fame as the front-man of super-group The Police in the late 1970s.