Recent photos of Nicolas Cage posing in traditional nomadic garb while visiting Kazakhstan transformed him into a hilarious meme that has gone viral, but the Human Rights Foundation isn’t laughing.
The Hollywood Reporter revealed Wednesday that despite reported violations of human rights in the country, the 53-year-old Hollywood actor attended the Eurasia Film Festival as a VIP guest.
He told journalists, “I would be pleased to participate in some film project on the territory of Kazakhstan. I enjoyed the architecture of your capital. What I saw reminded me of an old black-and-white film that depicted the future.”
HRF president Thor Halvorssen was outraged by the statement.
“His glowing review gave Kazakhstan’s dictatorship much-needed PR, and his photos boosted the regime’s visibility on the international stage,” he told the magazine. “Cage should be mortified that he participated in a whitewashing stunt for a murderous tyrant.”
HRF Chief Strategy Officer Alex Gladstein added: “Cage and his publicity team could have determined from a quick online search that Kazakhstan is ruled by a brutal dictator.
"Celebrities could be playing a key role in the struggle for human rights, especially in places like Kazakhstan where artistic freedom is most under threat. To see role models like Nicolas Cage instead take the side of dictators is profoundly disappointing and a sign that human rights aren’t a consideration for Hollywood stars.”
According to the nonprofit, which aims to promote human rights globally, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev shut down independent news outlets and arrested critics during his 26-year rule. They also revealed government forces killed more than a dozen peaceful protestors during the Zhanaozen massacre in 2011.
Cage’s reps did not immediately respond to the publication’s request for comment.