- The Washington Times
Friday, October 22, 2021

NBA player Enes Kanter hit China on Twitter again Friday afternoon, posting a second condemnation of “the Chinese communist party’s agenda” two days after the country censored his team’s games over an earlier critical social media post.

Pivoting from the “free Tibet” theme of his first video with new references to “forced abortions and sterilizations” and “concentration camps,” the Boston Celtics center wears a “freedom for Uyghur” T-shirt in Friday’s video, referring to a majority-Muslim ethnic group of 1.8 million people who live in an autonomous region of northwest China.

“There is a genocide happening right now,” Kanter says in his new video, alleging human rights abuses that he said also include “political reeducation” for Muslims in “slave labor camps.”

“The Uyghur region has become an open-air prison and surveillance state where freedoms are nonexistent for the Uyghur people,” he adds in the three-minute clip.

Kanter introduced the tweet with the following text: “Heartless Dictator of China, XI JINPING and the Communist Party of China. I am calling you out in front of the whole world. Close down the SLAVE labor camps and free the UYGHUR people! Stop the GENOCIDE, now!”

Multiple news outlets reported Thursday that all Celtics games had been removed from Tencent, the Chinese streaming platform that carries NBA games, following Kanter‘s first video. Neither the NBA nor Tencent has released a public statement or responded to media requests for comment.

Kantner’s original two-minute, 40-second video had more than one million views by Friday afternoon.

Kanter, a center, introduced the first video in a Wednesday tweet with the salutation, “Dear Brutal Dictator XI JINPING and the Chinese Government,” and a “#FreeTibet” hashtag.

Sporting a T-shirt with the image of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, Kanter says in his original video that “the communist ideology of China” has resulted in a “cultural genocide” of the Tibetan people.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China‘s Foreign Ministry, said at a news briefing on Thursday that Mr. Kanter‘s remarks “were not worth refuting.”

“We will never accept those attacks to discredit Tibet’s development and progress,” Mr. Wenbin said.

Kanter, born in Switzerland to Turkish parents, has a history of political activism.

He has shared public criticisms of President Tayyip Erdogan, calling the Turkish leader “the Hitler of our century.” Kanter was indicted in Turkey in 2018 on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization.

In November 2019 he appeared at a press conference with Sen. Edward Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, and Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, to protest Mr. Erdogan’s visit to the Trump White House as they introduced a bill to protest his alleged human rights violations.

The NBA, which has embraced the political activism of players who target injustice and social causes in the United States, has been much less enthusiastic about those in the league who raise concerns about communist China.

In October 2019, after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, the NBA, which sees the lucrative Chinese market as key to plans for global expansion, issued an apology to China‘s leaders.

The NBA‘s biggest star, Lebron James, tweeted that Mr. Morey was “either misinformed or not really educated on the situation.” He later walked back his comments following pushback from fans, saying he didn’t really know much about the Hong Kong protests.

The Washington Times on Friday reached out to Chinese officials in Washington for reaction to the latest Kanter tweet.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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