WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)—On Sept. 7 (or Sept. 15, according to some sources), singer Rihanna was reportedly scheduled to give a free public concert at the inauguration of the luxury Fashion Castle Hotel in the town of Kyrenia in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus. While Greek Cypriots and sympathizers began a campaign to prevent her performance there, days have passed since the scheduled day of appearance, and there’s been no word on the event.
Some sources claimed that Rihanna would be joined by singer Justin Timberlake in a free concert that would celebrate the construction of not one but two hotels in Kyrenia. Rihanna would earn $1 million and Timberlake $2 million.
However, according to one source, Cyprus Today reported that Justin Timberlake was not going to perform in Northern Cyprus, and that the country’s name had been removed from a list of countries Rihanna was scheduled to tour. The Weekly was unable to confirm this information.
Meanwhile, Cyprus Mail reported that Washington based lawyer Athan Tsimpedes, in an Aug. 26 letter addressed to William Morris Agency, called on the agency to cancel its two clients’, Rihanna’s and Timberlake’s, plans of performing in Kyrenia.
Tsimpedes, who represents the Cyprus Movement for Refugees and Displaced Mothers, argued that “Turkish Gaza” was a more appropriate label for Northern Cyprus “as Turkey’s actions have isolated its residents from the rest of the world.”
The lawyer, who has also filed a multi-billion dollar class action lawsuit on behalf of Greek Cypriot refugees in Washington against Turkey, stated that these appearances “sought to promote events in the Turkish Gaza to conceal its dark history.”
According to the report, Tsimpedes then warned the agency that “potential performances in the Turkish Gaza may give rise to claims for trespass and other legal remedies in the appropriate courts,” adding that Kyrenia “belongs to refugees.”
In April 2009, the European Court of Justice ruled in favor of Greek Cypriot Meletis Apostolides, who was seeking to reclaim land lost in Northern Cyprus where, following the 1974 invasion, the new owners had built a villa, reported BBC.
A number of Facebook groups and online petitions surfaced since the announcement of Rihanna’s performance–some in support and others in opposition. One group, called “Against Rihanna Performing in Occupied Cyprus,” gained over 9,000 members. Its rival, “Rihanna will be Performing in North Cyprus September 2010,” gained over 7,500 members. Other groups also sprouted, gaining fewer supporters.
News of Rihanna’s expected performance surfaced soon after another celebrity, Jennifer Lopez, reportedly another client of the William Morris Agency, canceled her performance at the opening of the Cratos hotel following criticism. The Turkish Vatan newspaper claimed that Rihanna was a personal friend of hotel owner Yilmaz Bektas’ wife, Zuleyka Rivera Mendoza, the winner of Miss Universe 2006.
Jennifer Lopez’s concert had been scheduled for July 24, a few days after the anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. Lopez’s publicist was quoted as saying, “Jennifer Lopez would never knowingly support any state, country, institution, or regime that was associated with any form of human rights abuse.”
Meanwhile, R&B singer Sean Paul reportedly had two performances on the island in August, one in the southern coastal city of Limassol, and another in Kyrenia.
Cyprus became divided after the Turkish invasion in 1974. Turkey is the only country that recognizes the northern portion as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.