Lionel Messi, who is a star forward for Barcelona, has recently come under fire from the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) for a trip that he took to the African country of Gabon. According to the story on The Telegraph, the football star took a trip to Gabon on July 17th where he met with government officials. He was there in support of President Ali Bongo, who is runs a dictatorship in the country, according to the Human Rights Foundation.
President Ali Bongo has been accused by the HRF as a dictator whose family has had control over the economy and politics in Gabon since 1967. The nonprofit even took its criticism to Twitter to let the world know its stance. Under the rule of the Bongo family, many children have mysteriously disappeared. It is suspected that these missing children were the victims of a ritualistic killing. Further, it is suspected that Bongo, his regime, and the wealthy citizens of Gabon practice cannibalism which they believe will strengthen their position in society. Messi, who is 28-years-old, is a supporter of UNICEF as an ambassador and is an advocate for children’s rights. His visit to President Bongo and Gabon now undermines his credibility as a supporter of those rights, as well as his charitable organizations.
It is reported that Lionel Messi was visiting the central African nation as a guest of honor to see the construction of the Port-Gentil stadium. Messi was on-hand to lay the first concrete stone at the site. The new stadium will be the host of the 2017 African Cup of Nations. It was also reported that Messi was paid for his appearance in Gabon, however the Gabon embassy denied any truth to that rumor.
Alex Gladstein, listed as the Chief Strategy Officer on LinkedIn for the Human Rights Foundation, has spoken to the media saying he was shocked that Messi’s management team would allow him to go to a country that had a human rights abuser as a leader. Gladstein went on to say that if Messi was hoping to do good in Gabon, he should have focused on asking the regime to do something about the missing children.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a non-profit organization founded in 2005 that works to protect the rights of all humans across the globe. The main focus of the HRF is on the treatment of people within a closed society. The Foundation was created by Venezuelan human rights activist Thor Halvorssen Mendoza and is headquartered in New York City. The HRF believe that all humans have a right to certain freedoms such as the freedom of religion, freedom to associate with whomever they wish, to speak freely, to equal treatment, and to be free from being made a slave or be tortured.