A representative for Jennifer Lopez has defended the singer after she came under fire from human rights activists for appearing at a birthday concert for the president of Turkmenistan on Saturday (29Jun13).

The On the Floor hitmaker flew to the Central Asian nation to help Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov celebrate turning 56, and wished him a happy birthday after her performance.

Lopez was immediately criticised by bosses at the Human Rights Foundation, who maintain Berdymukhamedov oversees one of the most repressive regimes in the world.

Now Lopez's publicist has spoken out in a bid to quell the backlash, insisting the concert was organised by executives at the China National Petroleum Corporation and was "not a government sponsored event or political in nature".

The rep adds that the star was completely unaware of allegations of human rights abuse levied against Berdymukhamedov, adding, "The event was vetted by her representatives, had there been knowledge of human rights issues of any kind, Jennifer would not have attended."

This isn't the first time a celebrity has caused outrage appearing at a political event - actress Hilary Swank was paid to attend a birthday bash for controversial Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov in 2011, but she donated the money to charity following an uproar from fans.