Human Rights Foundation Calls on Liam Payne to Cancel Saudi Arabia Performance

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Liam Payne attends The Summer Party 2019 Presented By Serpentine Galleries And Chanel at The Serpentine Gallery on June 25, 2019 in London.

On Tuesday (July 9), Nicki Minaj canceled her headlining set at Saudi Arabia's Jeddah World Fest in a show of support for "the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression." Now, a day later, the Human Rights Foundation issued a statement calling for Liam Payne and the other remaining performers to cancel their planned appearances.

"The Jeddah World Fest is funded and authorized by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), one of the world’s worst human rights violators," the statement reads. "The Human Rights Foundation is urging Payne to cancel his July 18 performance and use his global influence and platform in solidarity with the Saudi women’s rights activists who are currently in prison."

"Payne, an outspoken supporter of women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights, will be performing for a regime where homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment or death," it continues. "In April of this year, five men were beheaded by the Saudi government after enduring months of torture and admitting to sexual relations with other men."   

In addition to the public statement, HRF also sent a letter directly to the former One Direciton member and his managers, urging him to follow in Minaj's footsteps. "For decades the Saudi government has harassed, arrested, and sentenced dissidents violating their freedom of expression, opinion and assembly," the letter shared with Billboard reads. "Not only does the Kingdom hold a seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council, Saudi Arabia was recently appointed to lead an influential panel that 'selects top officials who shape international human rights standards and report on violations worldwide.' Still, the Kingdom regularly engages in the systematic repression of activists and human rights defenders, often leading to numerous years of imprisonment, without trial, and the use of repressive measures against them."

"If you move forward with this performance for a festival sponsored by the Crown Prince, you will be in league with the people who respond to freedom of expression and thought with murder," it continues.