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Human Rights Foundation Lashes Out At Lionel Messi's Trip To Gabon

Lionel Messi has found himself in the center of a controversy due to his recent trip to Gabon. Messi visited the African country on July 17, 2015. He was met with resistance shortly after by the Human Rights Foundation, who condemned his "enthusiastic support" of the regime, according to an article I read on The Telegraph's website. The charges that the Human Rights Foundation have levelled against Gabon President Ali Bongo are disturbing and severe, to say the least.

The Human Rights Foundation claims that Bongo presides over a country where the ritual murder of children is common. Those children who are murdered then have their organs harvested. Messi runs his own charitable organization for children, which was another fact pointed out by the Human Rights Foundation. There's a bit of dispute about whether Messi was paid for the trip. The press claimed he received a hefty payout for his trip. That's a claim that Messi and Bongo denied vehemently. Bongo said he met Messi and invited him to visit the country to see plans for a huge new soccer stadium that is being built there. Messi obliged him with the recent visit. Oddly enough, even a local political group in Gabon was not happy with Messi. They ridiculed the fact that he wore "tattered shorts" to visit the country. Messi did not enhance his public image with the visit from a variety of circles. 

The HRF ripped into Messi about July 17 trip. They claim that he helped the leaders of the country with a "PR campaign." They pointed to the fact that a press release was sent out and many social media posts were made concerning the visit. The Bongo family has ruled the country since 1967. During that time, they have displayed vast wealth. Over one-third of the population of the country lives in dire poverty in contrast. Messi joins a long list of celebrities who have been intensely criticized for doing public appearances in countries with human rights issue. The HRF called on Messi to denounce the leadership of Gabon and to call on them to investigate the claims of ritual murder. Activists in the country have made very serious charges that the ruling elite in the country believe in cannibalism and practice it. 

The Human Rights Foundation is a non-profit organization who's primary focus is on "closed societies". They are involved on shining the light on social and democratic issues anywhere in the world where they feel liberty is in danger. Their philosophy aligns closely with the principles of the 1976 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Part of their work is to pressure those who they feel are working against the issues. Lionel Messi has not responded to the allegations.