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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sean Penn's Hypocrisy

Sean Penn's Hypocrisy Prompts Media Exposure of Human Rights Violations in Cuba and Venezuela

NEW YORK (December 18, 2008)—This past week has seen a flurry of media activity as a result of an article about American film actor Sean Penn and his promotion of Hugo Chávez and Raúl Castro. The article, written by the New Republic’s James Kirchick, appeared in the Advocate magazine and included comments by the Human Rights Foundation’s (HRF’s) president, Thor Halvorssen, about the hypocrisy of Penn, who is lionized for playing a champion of rights in the Gus Van Sant film, Milk, while simultaneously serving as a public advocate of the presidents of Cuba and Venezuela. This is especially jarring given that Milk depicts the struggle for legal equality for gays and lesbians, yet it was the Cuban government that used the UMAP concentration camps to intern sexual minorities into forced labor for the purposes of political re-education.
Yesterday, the New York Post’s “Page Six” quoted HRF. On Saturday the Los Angeles Times also mentioned HRF in its electronic and print editions. Dozens of blogs referred to HRF’s concerns including Andrew Sullivan and Defamer, and an article in The Week suggested that Penn’s Oscar hopes might be affected. In every instance reference is made to human rights violations in both Cuba and Venezuela.
“The public attention that Mr. Penn has unwittingly brought to the human rights crisis in Venezuela and to the police state that used concentration camps in Cuba has led to increased interest and concern. This is especially relevant and productive. What would be most helpful would be if Mr. Penn reconsidered his errant efforts to promote governments with a demonstrable record of appalling human rights violations. Mr. Penn’s public behavior is indefensible and wholly incompatible with someone who claims to support individual rights.” said Sarah Wasserman, Chief Operating Officer of HRF.
HRF is an international nonpartisan organization devoted to defending human rights in the Americas. It centers its work on the twin concepts of freedom of self-determination and freedom from tyranny. These ideals include the belief that all human beings have the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF does not support nor condone violence. HRF’s International Council includes former prisoners of conscience Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Armando Valladares, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.

Human Rights Foundations 

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