(TibetanReview.net, Oct23’21) – Undaunted by China’s censoring of his NBA team games over his criticism of its occupation of Tibet and its repressive rule there two days earlier, Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter has doubled down on his stand on Oct 22, calling out President Xi Jinping over his government’s treatment of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has voiced his support for Kanter’s freedom of speech while the United States has voiced concern at China’s actions against his team, both on Oct 22.
“Heartless Dictator of China, XI JINPING and the Communist Party of China. I am calling you out in front of the whole world,” Kanter has tweeted. “Close down the SLAVE labor camps and free the UYGHUR people! Stop the GENOCIDE, now!”
Kanter has included a video of himself, wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words “Freedom for Uyghurs,” and listing a number of ways in which the Chinese government had oppressed the Muslim minority group.
“Torture, rape, forced abortions and sterilizations. Family separations. Arbitrary detentions. Concentration camps. Political reeducation. Forced labor. This is all happening right now,” Kanter has said.
“The Uyghur region has become an open-air prison and surveillance state where freedoms are non-existent for the Uyghur people,” he has continued, adding that the Chinese government had systematically oppressed other Muslim groups as well, all because they did not exactly align with the Communist Party.”
And then several hours later, he has followed with another tweet, saying, “To those of you who care about human dignity: Please join me in spreading the word. What is happening to the Uyghurs is one of the WORST human rights abuses in the world today. We can NOT stay silent!”
Kanter’s comments about the situation in Tibet prompted NBA partner Tencent Sports to stop streaming Celtics games in China, even marking previous games unavailable for replay.
Even so , Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has on Oct 22 voiced his support for Kanter, following his Tibet comments.
“My conversation with Enes was real short and sweet,” msn.com Oct 22 quoted Stevens as saying during his weekly appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub, “and that is we’re always going to support any of our players and their right to freedom of speech and expression. And I think in my experience with the Celtics and the NBA, that’s the way it’s been and that’s the way it’ll continue to be.”
Also on Oct 22, a US State Department spokesperson has said in an email message reported by sports.inquirer.net Oct 23, “The United States is deeply concerned by the PRC’s actions against the National Basketball Association for statements one player made regarding Tibet.”
“We value freedom of expression and support anyone who exercises that right,” the spokesperson has said.