Human-rights organization condemns the “Million Dollar Baby” star and the action hero for attending a bash for a leader accused of atrocities
Jean-Claude Van Damme might be gearing up to do battle once again — but this time his martial arts skills aren't likely to help him out.
Van Damme, along with "Million Dollar Baby" star Hilary Swank, is catching fire from the Human Rights Foundation, for attending the Oct. 5 birthday party of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.
According to Human Rights Foundation, Kadyrov — who was appointed by Vladimir Putin in 2007 — has been accused of employing disappearances, torture and executions.
In a statement released by the Human Rights Foundation, the organization's president, Thor Halvorssen, said that HRF had sent Swank a letter in September, warning her of Kadyrov's alleged misdeeds. At the time, Halvorssen says, Swank's representative replied that the actress wasn't planning to attend the soiree. However, Swank, as well as Van Damme, can be seen in video of the event.
“Hilary Swank obviously has the right to earn a living entertaining the highest bidder, but this sort of venality should be exposed—especially after claiming she was not going,” Halvorssen said in the statement. “Would she have accepted an invitation to entertain Pinochet? Al-Qaeda? The apartheid government in Pretoria? We must remember the disgrace Mariah Carey, Nelly Furtado, Beyoncé and 50 Cent were exposed to after singing for Gaddafi’s family and earning millions of dollars for it.”
During the event, according to Human Rights Foundation, Van Damme took the stage and pronounced, "I love you, Mr. Kadyrov," while Swank declared that she was proud to be in Chechnya's capital Grozny, where the party was held, and wished the reportedly iron-fisted leader a happy birthday.
Colombian singer Shakira was also reportedly expected to attend the party at one point, but ultimately she was not at the event. According to HRF, Kadyrov publicly lamented that human-rights organizations had persuaded her not to attend.
A representative for Van Damme had no comment for TheWrap on this story. Swank's representative did not immediately respond to TheWrap's request for comment.