NBA’s Dogged Human Rights Advocate, Enes Kanter

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NBA’s Dogged Human Rights Advocate, Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter, a Boston Celtics player, has never been shy to speak his thoughts, whether blasting Turkey and China’s human rights records or criticizing LeBron James’ refusal to campaign for the Covid-19 vaccination.

On Wednesday, the 29-year-old inflamed already-simmering tensions between China and the NBA by calling Chinese President Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator” and criticizing Beijing’s Tibet policy.

“Dear Chinese Government and Brutal Dictator XI JINPING: Tibet is Tibetan people’s land!” In a message shared on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, Kanter said.

“I stand with my Tibetan brothers and sisters, and I support their calls for freedom,” the Boston Celtics center wrote, next to a photo of Tibetan-themed sneakers with the words “Free Tibet.”

Tibet has fluctuated between independence and Chinese domination throughout the centuries. China claims to have “peacefully liberated” Tibet in 1951, bringing infrastructure and education to the previously undeveloped region.

Human rights activists and exiles, on the other hand, have accused China of religious repression, torture, forced sterilization, and cultural disintegration via forced re-education.

Kanter’s condemnation was met with immediate retaliation from China.

By Thursday, Tencent’s sports site had removed all upcoming Celtics games from its calendar, highlighting the NBA’s tense relationship with China, where the league remains extremely popular.

After Daryl Morey, then-general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted a message of support for pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong, Chinese state broadcasters dropped the NBA in 2019.

Tencent has stopped streaming games involving the Philadelphia 76ers, where Morey is currently the president, as a result of the problem.

After the NBA’s initial approach to the situation was criticized, commissioner Adam Silver later stated that the organization would not seek to prevent players from speaking out on social concerns.

In October 2019, Silver stated, “The NBA will not put itself in a position of policing what players, employees, and franchise owners say or will not say on these matters.”

“We couldn’t operate in that manner.”

Kanter’s stance suggests he won’t face any formal consequences for his criticism of Xi and China.

Meanwhile, Kanter resolved to keep speaking his opinion, regardless of the consequences.

In 2019, Kanter told the Boston Globe, “To some people, money trumps principles.” “Principles trump money for me.” Kanter outlined why he would never be silent about matters important to him in a 2020 op-ed for the Boston Globe, which came after the worldwide protests prompted by the death of George Floyd. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.

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