Hollywood actress Hilary Swank has sacked her personal advisors for a second time after it emerged that last week she attended the lavish birthday celebrations of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.
In photos that were leaked to newspapers by an anonymous guest, the two-time Oscar-winning actress is seen performing a karaoke rendition of Michael Jackson’s ’Earth Song’ with the autocratic ruler, who over the past months has escalated violence across Syria, with thousands killed in the process. She is also seen posing with Assad while they both wear colourful party hats and blow out candles on a giant cake.
“I deeply regret my actions. I chose to attend the party on the recommendation of my advisors, a decision I realise now was an unwise one,” the actress said in a statement yesterday. “I have since decided to suspend the services of my publicity team, who I don’t believe were acting in my best interests,” she added.
The statement failed to establish what Swank intended to do with the $500,000 she is reported to have received for her appearance at Assad’s party. Representatives of international charities have suggested that she should donate the money to international charities, specifically their ones.
“It’s shocking that Swank would choose to celebrate Assad’s birthday with him at a time when Syria is experiencing bloodshed on the streets at the hands of his military. I urge her to help repair the damage that she has caused by donating her appearance fees to charities such as Save The Christian Donkeys Foundation,” said Jeff Capes, chairman of Save The Christian Donkeys Foundation.
The move comes just months after the Million Dollar Baby star was revealed to have been among the guests at the birthday celebrations for Chechan leader Ramzan Kadyrov, the public outcry of which forced her to sack her first team of advisors.
Jean-Claude Van Damme, who attended the party of Kadyrov alongside Swank, was also seen enjoying the festivities at Assad’s party, held in a five-star hotel in the Syrian capital.
The Belgian straight-to-video actor has since ignored requests that he apologise for his actions and has in fact hinted that he is planning to star in an action film produced by the Syrian regime. “Great party 4 assad last nite. cant wait 2 kick butt in his new thai boxing movie,” he tweeted, before adding “And its going to B called Van Dammascus! MEGALOLS”