In 2009, Sting performed at an event in Uzbekistan for Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of dictator Islam Karimov. The Uzbek leader's list of human rights abuses includes torture, kidnapping, rape, murder and more.
Rather than being contrite for his participation, Sting instead defended his involvement, stating: "I am well aware of the Uzbek president's appalling reputation in the field of human rights, as well as the environment. I made the decision to play there in spite of that. I have come to believe that cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counterproductive, where proscribed states are further robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art and as a result become even more closed, paranoid and insular."
Sting does show some discrimination as to which repressive regimes he will offer his services. In 2011, Sting canceled a concert in Kazakhstan after learning of a crackdown on an oil strike that left over a dozen people dead and many more imprisoned, beaten and tortured.